Top 5 Oral Habits Your Teen Should Stop Doing Right Now

Smoking and Chewing Tobacco

Teenagers of the 1950s had the oh-so-cool screen images of a cigarette-puffing James Dean to emulate. But these days, portrayals of teen smoking (even adult smoking) have been wiped from pop culture mediums. The anti-smoking campaigns of the past several decades have helped curb the glamorization of the habit, and cigarette use among teens dropped drastically as the 21st century began [source: Hendrick]. Despite those positive trends, nearly 20 percent of today's high school students smoke [source: Hendrick]. In addition, smokeless tobacco use -- dip, snuff and chewing tobacco -- is on the rise among teens [source: Smith].

At this point, the dangers of tobacco are well known. In case you need a refresher, however, be aware that it puts your teen at risk for lung cancer, oral cancer, exacerbated asthma attacks and chronic bronchitis. And as your son or daughter ages, smoking will increase his or her odds of developing any number of cardiovascular diseases and other chronic illnesses.

The threat of long-term health problems may not be enough to motivate teens to stop smoking. So in addition, you can explain to your son or daughter some of the more superficial effects it has. For instance, you might remind them that most teens won't date smokers [source: American Academy of Pediatrics]. If your teenager wants to quit but is having trouble, a great resource is the U.S. Government's Teen Smokefree TxT, which can text smoking cessation support to a teen's cell phone.

Ready to have that talk with your teen? Look for other great resources below.

Related Articles


  • Absolutely Smiles. "Oral Hygiene for Teens and Kids." (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. "Teens: Alcohol and Other Drugs." March 2011 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. "Obesity's Impact on Teen Health." May 26, 2011 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • American Academy of Pediatrics. "Teens and Smoking." Aug. 16, 2010 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • American Dental Hygienists Association. "Want some life saving advice? Ask Your Dental Hygienist about Proper Oral Health Care for Adolescents" Sept. 5, 2007 (Aug. 20, 2011)
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  • Krejci, CB. "Self-Inflicted Gingival Injury Due to Habitual Fingernail Biting." Journal of Periodontology. June 2000 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • Leung, AK; Robson WL. "Nailbiting." Clinical Pediatrics. December 1990 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • Masters, Coco. "Oral Sex Can Add to HPV Cancer Risk." Time. May 11, 2007 (Aug. 20, 2011),8599,1619814,00.html
  • McCoy, Krisha. "10 Bad Habits that Can Harm Your Teeth." Everyday Health. July 29, 2011 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • McGonigal, Kelly. "The Superpowers of Candy." Psychology Today. Oct. 25, 2010 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • MedlinePlus. "Smoking and Youth." Aug. 5, 2011 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • Mesa, Ruben A. "Craving and Chewing Ice: A Sign of Anemia?" Mayo Clinic. Feb. 12, 2010 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • Smith, Donna. "Smokeless Tobacco Use Rising Among Teens." Reuters. April 14, 2010 (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • "Teen Smokefree TxT." (Aug. 20, 2011)
  • Tanaka, OM; Vitral, RW; Tanaka, GY; Guerrero, AP and Camargo, ES. "Nailbiting or Onychophagia: A Special Habit." American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. August 2008 (Aug. 20, 2011)


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