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The teenage years (12-17) are a crucial time for a person’s physical and mental development. Most teens understand that and the benefits of having a health-focused attitude towards their changing minds and bodies. Even though adolescence can be a challenging and confusing time for teens, most recognise the importance of good nutrition, exercise and skin health care (i.e. no pimples!). Oral health care is also an important health concern for teens, yet it often gets overlooked. Teens can develop a false sense of security about their oral health – and why shouldn’t they? They’ve grown out their baby teeth, and with a brand new set of strong, healthy adult teeth, they think they can eat anything without any oral health consequences.

Unfortunately, this couldn’t be any further from the truth.

Most serious oral health conditions experienced by older adults, such as gum disease, recessed gums and tooth loss, are degenerative oral conditions that start with humble beginnings during adolescence. Consider tooth plaque. Plaque – that fuzzy white stuff that can build up on your teeth – might seem harmless enough. It can be scrapped off with your fingernail. But if you allow plaque to remain on your teeth along the gum line for another 10 to 20 years – especially in hard to reach places – it will slowly penetrate the gum line, and move along your tooth roots into your gums.

By then you have a high risk of experiencing periodontal disease – a serious oral health condition that can lead to tooth loss and other health issues. It’s a gradual process that can take decades. So, if you are a teenager, now is the best time to lay the foundations for an oral health care routine that will ensure you keep all your natural teeth for life. Why is this so important? Short answer – you only get one set of natural teeth – and if you lose them, they don’t grow back. Making a strong lifetime commitment to good oral health care and hygiene in your teenage years, is the best investment you can make to ensure that you keep your natural teeth for life – and reduce future health costs by thousands of dollars Ok! Stay tuned for Part 2 – Essential oral health care tips for teens.