Teenagers Neglecting Basic Oral Hygiene

Updated: Dec 3, 2018

The UK’s leading oral health charity is calling for teenagers to improve their oral hygiene, after a recent study revealed adolescents who smoke are more likely to abandon the basics. The call from the British Dental Health Foundation is based on research that suggests young adults double up on poor oral health habits, as they smoke and brush their teeth less than the recommended twice a day. Poor school performance and low socio-economic status also attributed to these oral and smoking habits, as the results drew on an association between the children and their mother’s education.

The research, published in the Journal of Clinical Periodontology, was led by Associate Professor of Kuwait University Sisko Honkala based on the Adolescent Health and Lifestyle Survey conducted in Finland. Many are still unaware of the damage smoking does to the mouth, yet during adolescence, some young people often experiment with smoking and, if continued, can have a detrimental effect on their health2. Peer pressure is the single most common reason for adolescents taking up the habit, and according to Dr Ben Atkins, Clinical Director of Revive Dental Care, the evidence presented points to a clear gap in oral health education. Dr Atkins said: “It is clear from the findings of the research that this particular age group could potentially have many oral health problems relating to their lifestyle choices. Multiple unhealthy behaviours, particularly at an age when you are still developing, can have a lasting impact.

Parents and schools must look to educate young adults and adolescents on the choices they are making and the impact they have, not just on their oral health, but on their general health too. “It is not unreasonable to suggest this trend would be reflected throughout the generations, as in general smokers have a greater risk gum disease through poor lifestyle and oral hygiene habits.” A good oral hygiene routine is something the Foundation considers extremely important to maintain good oral health, regardless of whether you smoke or not. It sounds simple, but following the Foundation’s three key messages of brushing for two minutes twice a day using a fluoride toothpaste, visiting the dentist as often as they recommend and cutting down on how often you have sugary foods and drinks really does make a difference to your level of oral health.

Dr Atkins indicated further improvements can be made with a little help from the dentist. “If you smoke, the best way to look after your teeth is by quitting, and with dental practices taking a more active role in smoking cessation, more help than ever before is available to help you do so. “Tobacco is the most likely cause of mouth cancer, linked to around three-quarters of all cases of a disease which kills one person every five hours in the UK. With around 21 per cent of the UK’s population still smoking and incidence rates continuing to rise, more must be done to raise awareness of the disease and educate the general public on how to reduce the risk of serious oral health problems generated by smoking.”

If you would like further information or advice for you our your children on Oral Hygiene please contact us on 02866 329222 and speak with our highly trained and helpful hygienist Tanya or therapists Joanna. You can also visit our website www.belmoredental.co.uk or email sinead@belmoredental.co.uk.

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