Teen Health: This Risk Needs to be Tackled!


Oral Preventive Houston, TXOral hygiene is an important practice. Because we know this, we spend a lot of time teaching good principles to young children. During early childhood, children are learning the value of brushing, then the actual practice of brushing independently but with close oversight. By about age 10 or so, parents may assume that their child has everything under control in the oral care department. Teens not only need continual encouragement to take good care of their teeth and gums, but they also need to be aware of specific risks to their mouth and their general wellness.

In a recent report, the Academy of General Dentistry pointed out that the pace of life that is common today is a risk to teens’ oral and general health. Due to a nearly-constant rush, teens are more likely to reach for convenience foods. Soda is a prime example and the very example that was identified by the Academy as a direct risk to tooth and bone health.

The risk presented by soda may seem obvious to a lot of parents. We go back to the habits of early childhood when sugar consumption was often carefully controlled. Parents of teens may try to discourage their kids from drinking soda because they presume the sugar in such beverages can cause cavities. That’s true. Sugar can lead to tooth decay. The way it does, though, is by supporting acid in the mouth. It is the acid produced by oral bacteria (the tiny microorganisms that consume the sugar from soda and other foods) that causes damage. So, let’s look again at the average soda.

If you look at the ingredients in soda, you are likely to see the word “acid.” In particular, phosphoric acid is a common preservative in soft drinks. According to studies, phosphoric acid is a direct inhibitor of calcium. During adolescence, the body needs 1300mg a day of this mineral. The reason why is that bones are doing their most active growing between the ages of 9 and 18. Without sufficient calcium, there is a risk that bones will remain somewhat fragile and susceptible to fracture. This idea is not theory; it is a fact confirmed by research.

It is unlikely that parents can prevent a teenager from drinking soda if that has been the habit. However, parents can encourage their teens to take a daily multivitamin to support optimal bone and tooth health.

We enjoy assisting families from the Houston area by providing friendly dental care. Contact an office near you to schedule checkups and cleanings for your family.

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