By the HELP Committee and Havre Public Schools
We all know that teens pay close attention to fashion, music and all of the latest trends, but unfortunately most teens don't spend enough time taking care of their teeth and gums.
Cindy Bauer, spokeswoman for the Academy of General Dentistry, said, "Many teens do not see a dentist for regular dental care and some have never even been to a dentist. They don't get the care they need or the proper oral education to make smart decisions on the foods they eat and on how to practice good oral hygiene habits at home."
February is National Children's Dental Health Month, and the AGD offers the following oral health advice for teens:
Put a limit on the amount of soda you drink. The sugar in soda is harmful to teeth while the flavor additives can damage tooth enamel. Using a straw to drink soda can reduce the contact between the soda and teeth. After drinking soda, rinse your mouth with water to reduce the risk of cavities.
Don't get your tongue pierced. You can chip or fracture your teeth on tongue piercings while you eat, sleep, talk or chew on the jewelry. Oral piercings can also cause infections and, in some cases, the infection can cause the tongue to swell so much that it interferes with breathing. There's also the risk you may contract blood-borne diseases such as hepatitis.
Make time for healthy oral habits. Keep travel-size toothbrushes in your locker or backpack so that you can brush your teeth after having a quick snack or meal. Chewing sugarless gum containing the sweetener xylitol after you eat can also help cleanse your mouth. Drinking water throughout the day helps flush away excess bacteria and food debris.
Visit your dentist at least twice a year. Regular dental visits help your dentist detect minor problems before they become major ones.
The Boys & Girls Club of the Hi-Line's Cavity Free Zone program addresses dental hygiene, and classes are offered quarterly. For more information on this or related prevention topics, call 265-6206.