When a Smile Isn't Perfect: Talking to Your Teens About How Teeth Develop


Remind your kids that they're far from alone when it comes to having a less-than-perfect smile during their teen years.
Remind your kids that they're far from alone when it comes to having a less-than-perfect smile during their teen years.
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When you're an adult, it's easy to forget just how tough it is to be a teenager. With the difficulties of school, friends and hormones, the time between child and adult can be tricky to navigate. And to top it all off, some teenagers have to deal with less-than-perfect teeth, too. Life is hard enough without being self-conscious about your smile.

If your teenager is dealing with an imperfect set of teeth, take the time to talk with him about it. First off, remind him that his mouth are still changing. Even when all of our regular teeth have come in, it takes a while for our jaws to grow large enough to accommodate all those teeth. Then there are wisdom teeth, which start to erupt in the late teens. According to WebMD, not everyone gets wisdom teeth, but those who do often experience problems as a result. Wisdom teeth can grow in sideways, crowd your other molars or affect the health of your jawbone or nerves. If your dentist thinks your teenager's wisdom teeth are going to present a problem for his overall oral health, he will likely recommend that they be removed.

In other words: your teenager's teeth aren't finished, yet. But that might not be very comforting to your teen if he feels self-conscious about his crooked teeth. Be sure to remind him that just about no one would have an absolutely perfect smile without the aid of braces, retainers or other orthodontic procedures.

Also emphasize to your kid that he can help out his future self by taking good care of his teeth now. Tobacco is a bad idea for a number of reasons, but the negative consequences most relevant to him now include stained teeth and bad breath. Oral piercings -- including tongue, lip and cheek rings and studs -- are fashionable but bad for his mouth. The American Dental Association warns that such piercings can result in chipped teeth, infection, nerve damage or sensitivity to metal.

Read on to find out what else you can do to help your teen make the most of his smile.