Your teen may say that a pediatric dentist is for small children, but pediatric dentistry focuses on the oral health and development of infants, children, and adolescents. Because the teen years are when kids reach their final stages of dental development, Children's Dentistry of North Dallas has dedicated the combined expertise of our team to ensuring our patients enter adulthood with beautiful smiles. Below, we have provided information about some of the health risks your teen may face:

Tongue piercing—Is it really cool?

A lot of teens turn to body piercings as a means of self-expression. These days, it is common to see pierced lips, tongues, and even cheeks. What is not common, though, is the knowledge of how dangerous oral piercings can be. Because the mouth is full of bacteria already, oral piercings increase the likelihood of an infection.

Risks that accompany oral piercings include:

  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Blood poisoning
  • Blood clots
  • Heart infection
  • Brain abscess
  • Nerve disorders
  • Scar tissue
  • Receding gums

In some cases, the tongue will swell large enough to block the airway. If a blood vessel or nerve bundle was pierced by the needle, your teen may experience hard-to-control bleeding. Common symptoms of an infected piercing are:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Injured gum tissue

The American Dental Association has advised patients of all ages to forego oral piercings, and we agree.

Tobacco—Bad News in Any Form

Tobacco use in any form is dangerous for patients of all ages, and we encourage you to teach your child to avoid the substance.

Many teens believe that smokeless tobacco (spit, chew, or snuff) is a safe alternative to cigarettes and cigars. However, studies have shown that smokeless tobacco is even more addictive and hard to quit. One can of snuff contains as much nicotine as 60 cigarettes. When used over a small period of three to four months, snuff can result in leukoplakia (cancerous lesions) and periodontal disease.

Early signs of oral cancer in a tobacco user include:

  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Injured gum tissue

The American Dental Association has advised patients of all ages to forego oral piercings, and we agree.

  • Sores that will not heal
  • Red or white leathery patches around the tongue and lips
  • Tenderness, pain, or numbness around the mouth or lips
  • Difficulty moving the jaw or tongue to speak, chew, or swallow
  • Changes in the bite

Oral cancer in its early stages is often painless and, therefore, goes unnoticed by most patients. If not treated in a timely manner, cancer can result in extensive surgery and even fatality.

You can protect your child’s oral health by helping them avoid tobacco of any form. To learn more about dentistry for teens in Dallas, Texas, and how you can be involved, call 214-378-8868 and schedule an appointment with Dr. Holly, Dr. Shah, or Dr. Iwase.