Oral Health

Oral Health

Each of a teen’s body systems affect overall health. Oral health is often overlooked or misunderstood in terms of its impact of overall adolescent health. But in the medical community, oral health is known to affect systemic health, and vice versa. For example, poor oral health is significantly associated with major chronic diseases and causes disability. There is considerable overlap between oral health and general health, in that they share common risk factors and may worsen each other.

Below are some tips and resources to help raise awareness about oral health:

Oral Health Event/Promotional Toolkit

Download the Teen Health Week event/promotional toolkit for oral health.

Download Toolkit

The day’s aim is to provide facts and resources for teens to learn accurate information about oral health and how it affects their overall health as well as their quality of life.

This toolkit has been created to make it easy for a variety of organizations (Medical Offices, Schools, etc.) interested in adolescent health to participate in Global Teen Health Week. You are free to use and adapt any of the materials herein for your Teen Health Week activities; however, use of these materials is not required in order to promote adolescent health during Teen Health Week. Participating organizations are at liberty to celebrate Teen Health Week in any manner they wish, and are encouraged to be creative in adapting these ideas to meet the needs of the adolescents you wish to reach. Approval for activities or educational materials is not required.

Oral Health Facts

Toothbrushing twice a day has been accepted as the international recommendation for maintaining good oral hygiene. However, dental health needs and problems affect the majority of the global population, including youth:

  • Worldwide, 60–90% of school children and nearly 100% of adults have dental cavities.
  • Poor dental health can lead to school absenteeism.
  • Adolescents have specific needs pertaining to oral health:
    • sports injury prevention
    • oral piercings
    • increased sugar intake
    • nicotine initiation
    • orthodontic considerations
    • prevention opportunities for sealants and varnish
  • Risk factors for oral diseases include an unhealthy diet, tobacco use, harmful alcohol use and poor oral hygiene, and social determinants of health.
  • Parents play a dominant role in encouraging their children to adopt toothbrushing habits during childhood and adolescence.
  • While toothbrushing frequency has increased amongst schoolchildren it still lags behind the recommended twice daily, especially amongst boys as they age.
  • Chewing sugared gum is an invitation to tooth decay. Chewing gum flavored with non-sugar sweeteners including xylitol decreases the risk of cavities.

A young person with access to relevant information is likely to make positive decisions about health. Certainly, external factors, especially how their peers think, have a tremendous impact on how adolescents behave. As adolescents age, often it is the values and behaviors of their peers that are increasingly important, while parents and other family members maintain some, but less, influence. continue to be influential. Numerous environmental factor impact, both positively and negatively, oral health. Thus, any program or intervention with the aim of improving teen oral health needs to consider all of these factors.vi This is particularly important because lifelong health habits are created during adolescence.

Other Resources


Rethink Your Drink Infographic

Download Rethink Your Drink Infographic