At our Bay Area Kids Dentist practice, some questions we often hear from concerned parents are, “What’s the suggested protocol for my teenager and what type of dentist should they see? Is a pediatric dentist still the right choice for my teenager? Why?”
The teenage years can be a difficult time for your children, rife with complex social, mental, and physical changes — changes that include their teeth. You might be wondering if that warrants making the switch to an adult dentist from the pediatric dentist they’ve grown used to seeing.
Generally, a pediatric dentist is still a good fit for teens. Even if they’re no longer little kids, they’re still in an in-between state between childhood and adulthood. Their pediatric dentist is the best equipped to look after them during this phase and ensure that their teeth get the care they need. Let’s take a closer look at the reasons why your teen should continue seeing a children’s dentist.
Here are the three main reasons why your teen should still see a pediatric dentist:
No matter how tall they’ve gotten since they were a toddler, your teen isn’t done growing just yet. Even if their baby teeth have all been replaced by permanent teeth, the structure of their mouth, jaw, and face is still changing.
Because certified pediatric dentists have specialized training and education, they’re the ones who best understand the effect of your teen’s growth on their oral health. A pediatric dentist can monitor any changes and ensure that your child’s health and development are as they should be.
Early orthodontic inventions, like braces, can help address future problems before they worsen (e.g. crowded teeth, overbites, teeth impaction). A children’s dentist is very familiar with the signs of possible issues because that typically pop-up during middle to high school — and they’re specially trained to treat that age range. What’s more, when a pediatric dentist works with your teen throughout their childhood, they’ll constantly be on the lookout for any irregularities.
If your teen ends up needing braces or other orthodontic interventions, a pediatric dentist will often be the first person to notice and they’ll be more than capable of working with an orthodontist to give your child the orthodontic care they need.
Wisdom teeth are the third set of molars in the backmost part of the mouth. They usually grow in during the late teens to early 20s, around the ages of 16 to 25. When wisdom teeth emerge, they have the potential to cause harm to your teen’s oral health, especially if they come in sideways. Impacted wisdom teeth can cause extreme pain and cause other teeth to shift around.
You can trust a pediatric dentist to monitor the development of your teen’s wisdom teeth and point out concerns before they become painful problems.
Going to a pediatric dentist can help your teen as they navigate growing up and learning to take care of themselves. Your teen’s dentist can give them pointers about taking responsibility for their own dental health and overall well-being — making healthy nutritional choices and avoiding the typical pitfalls of teen diets (namely a lot of carbohydrates and sugars), caring for orthodontic appliances (such as braces, retainers, brackets, etc.), mitigating the risks of sports injuries, and more.
Typically, we recommend teens to continue seeing a children’s dentist up until they turn 18. By this point, most of the changes to their face and jaw structure will have slowed or stopped, orthodontic issues have already been identified and addressed, and wisdom teeth have either erupted or have begun to show up on x-rays.
In the end, the best way to figure out if your teen should still see a pediatric dentist is to consult with a professional. They will have the best advice for your individual situation and child.
At Bay Area Kids Dentist, we provide professional dental care for infants, children, and adolescents and we always want to provide the best care possible. If you have any questions about your teen’s dental health, feel free to give us a call.