Most teenagers have developed almost all of their permanent teeth (except, in most cases, the wisdom teeth) by their early teens, and preventative dental hygiene and sometimes orthodontics will become the main features in their dental care.
Oral Hygiene & Prevention
Your teen may be growing up and becoming more mature, independent, responsible, and self-sufficient, but you should continue to instill the importance of oral hygiene in them as much as you can.
Ideally, your teen has developed healthy oral hygiene habits throughout childhood, and these will continue now; the main difference being that he or she will be fully in charge of his or her oral health.
Of course, at this age you can continue to ensure that your child visits the dentist every 6 months, and that he or she has all the equipment necessary for good at-home oral hygiene, from toothbrushes and floss, to mouthwash. But the actual work of cleaning and caring for his or her teeth is now up to your teen!
For many young people, diet can become more of an issue during the teen years. Teenagers are more independent, but not necessarily more sensible, than they were when they were younger, and it’s not as easy for moms and dads to carefully monitor all of their food and drink choices.
When it comes to diet, the best you can do at this stage is to make lots of wholesome food available at home, and to be a good role model by demonstrating good oral hygiene habits and eating a nutritious, varied diet yourself.
If your child has developed teeth or jaw misalignment issues (malocclusion), now is the time that orthodontic treatment can begin.
Some younger children undergo Stage One (Early Interceptive) Orthodontic Treatment, but whether or not this has been the case with your child, the teen years are typically when braces treatment takes place, since this is when the adult teeth have just about fully developed.
The mouth as a whole, however, is still somewhat malleable and therefore more responsive to treatment at this age, than it will be as your teen gets older.
Wisdom teeth usually appear in the late teens or early 20s. For some, they may come in earlier or later, however.
Wisdom teeth often need to be removed, because they can cause crowding and other misalignment issues. In some cases, they can get stuck below the gum surface because there just isn't enough room for them to emerge, or because they’re growing in in the wrong direction.
Once the wisdom teeth have grown in, your child will finally be done growing his or her teeth!
The teen years can be an emotional time for many parents, as they see their child making the final transitions from childhood to adulthood. But don't kid yourself; you still exercise some influence over your child's choices, and can continue to guide them down the path to good oral health habits!