Teens and Teeth

Dear Dr. Ellie, 

I am the mother of two teenagers a 16 year old daughter and a 14 year old son. Recently we went to the dentist and found that they each have several cavities. My daughter in particular is very concerned about her teeth, and wants to bleach them. What is proper for a teen to do? And what can we do to avoid more bad dentist visits?


M B.

Dear M,

As a mom of 5 I know that getting your teen to have a good and regular oral hygeine routine can be an uphill battle. So my recommendation don’t fight your teen about tooth brushing: have your teen eat Xylitol!

When your teen’s teeth are covered in plaque, and their poor quality tooth brushing will be of little help in preventling cavities. Do the best you can to get them to brush well but it is more realistic and valuable to have your child use Xylitol (like Zellies) after snacks, sugary drinks and meals. Xylitol provides protection when teeth are not brushed by removing acids and loosening harmful bacteria from plaque on teeth. (And when they are brushed too!)

Let your teenagers know that Xylitol is a also great breath freshener, something that they will certainly be interested it…

If your children are athletic, they have special risks for dental disease. Children involved in sports, dance, or other high energy activities often drink acidic sports drinks and juices. The damage may be worse because of dehydration and mouth breathing, which causes dry mouth. Damage can be prevented and even reversed by eating Xylitol frequently to protect teeth from acidic attacks.

Bleaching teeth is common teen concern. I have seen some irritation is caused by home bleaching kits and strips and that care should be taken to avoid touching the gums with the materials. When your teens (or you) bleach your teeth you need to realize that you are taking off the protective layer of the tooth, making your teeth more porous and potentially damaging the gums.

Rinsing with fluoride after bleaching will help to provide a protective layer to re-harden teeth and stop them staining. Be very careful and use fluoride and Xylitol as much as possible after bleaching to repair the damage that may have been done.

Best of Luck,

Ellie Phillips, DDS

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