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Targeting Teenage Risks

Teenager Holding a SkateboardRisk-taking is a normal part of teenage development—and often a growth opportunity for parents, too! Heads up to handling some common dental risks of adolescence so you both stay smiling.

Wisdom Comes With Age

The wisdom teeth, the third molars, are the last to emerge. They appear in the teen years sometimes two, sometimes three or four, or sometimes none at all. In a too-small jaw, the risk is they’ll not be able to erupt, and cause pain and swelling from impaction. Or they’ll push their way in anyhow, crowding and squeezing neighboring teeth out of alignment. Routine X-rays, starting at around age 12, can head off trouble by determining if there’s adequate room in the mouth for any wisdom teeth waiting to grow up.

Guarding the Teen Mouth

Teen athletes thrive on the risks of competitive performance. For them, protecting their mouth is less important than dogging their opponent. That’s a high-risk misperception: the National Youth Sports Foundation estimates that over 5 million teeth are knocked out each year during sports activities. Ouch!

Three types of mouthguards are available to prevent dental trauma: stock, boil-and-bite, and custom-made. The stock and boil-and-bite options provide some safety at low cost, but they are often uncomfortable and interfere with breathing and talking—and are bound to spend more time on the sidelines than in the mouth. A mouthguard constructed by a dentist and custom fit from a dental impression provides the best result: wearable, durable protection that will actually see some play.

About R. Shawn Kelly, DDS

Dr. Kelly has been in private practice in the Sacramento area since 1981. Dr. Kelly received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology from The University of Arizona and received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree from the Herman Ostrow School of Dentistry of USC. Dr. Kelly is competent in all aspects of general dentistry including sedation for fearful patients and reconstructive dentistry. By drawing upon his many years of experience in the profession, Dr. Kelly is able to give his patients a thorough assessment of their needs and thoughtful explanation of his findings. He and his staff strive to communicate in easily understandable terms all the while trying to help every patient feel comfortable with their treatment decisions.

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