Dr Pastorino’s essential guide for looking after teenagers and teeth!


You should wear a mouthguard if you play a contact sport, or any sport where your mouth may get knocked. This applies to training as well. A fitted mouthguard from your dentist offers the best protection. Many different colours and strengths of guards are available.

Sports drinks

Sugar may decay your teeth but the acid in energy and sports drinks will also do some irreversible damage to those (not so) pearly whites.

Energy and sports drinks contain so much acid that they start destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use. Damage to enamel can cause teeth to become sensitive to touch and temperature changes, and be more susceptible to cavities and decay.

“Teens regularly come into my practice with these types of symptoms, but they don’t know why. We review their diet and snacking habits and then we discuss their consumption of these beverages. They don’t realize that something as seemingly harmless as a sports or energy drink can do a lot of damage to their teeth.” – Dr Pastorino

Dr. Pastorino recommends that her patients minimize their intake of sports and energy drinks. She also advises them to chew sugar-free gum or rinse the mouth with water following consumption of the drinks. Both these tactics increase saliva flow, which naturally helps to return the acidity levels in the mouth to normal.

Patients should also wait at least an hour to brush their teeth after consuming sports and energy drinks. Otherwise, says Dr. Pastorino, they will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.

Young adults consume these drinks assuming that they will improve their sports performance and energy levels and that they are ‘better’ for them than coke or carbonated drinks. These drinks are essentially bathing their teeth with acid. Energy drinks acidity levels vary among brands and flavours of energy drinks, and cause twice as much damage as the sports drinks.

Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it’s the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly. So by incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.

These drinks are glorified carbonate drinks, with as much or more sugar.

There may be a role for sports drinks for rehydration among endurance athletes under intense training conditions; they make little sense for anyone else.

A far better approach would be working to improve sleep quality and quantity and overall health.

“When these drinks combine a load of acid and sugar, they are detrimental to waistline and smile alike.” – Dr Pastorino

Carbonated drinks

Carbonated beverages include soft drinks, spring water, beer and some wines. Spring water, beer and sparkling wines are carbonated naturally either due to absorbing carbon dioxide from the ground, as in the case of spring water, or through the fermentation process. Soft drinks are artificially carbonated.

Carbonated Drinks are the “biggest factor” in causing tooth erosion in children. Drinking any amount increases the risk of long-term damage in a 14-year-old by 220%. Those who drink more than four cans a day are up to 500% more likely to suffer.

“Some children already have no surface on their molars. They are storing problems for the rest of their lives including sensitivity, pain and lack of resistance against natural wear.” – Dr Pastorino

Experts are backing moves to cut sales of fizzy drinks in school vending machines but, only a big drop in consumption can stem the problem.

Erosion is a growing problem among teenagers, yet many parents don’t understand the difference between it and decay.

“While drinking diet versions of fizzy drinks reduces sugar consumption, they are very acidic and can still cause erosion.” – Dr Pastorino.

Read more about dental erosion

Straws should be used to drink coca cola and other carbonated drinks, and should not be swished around in the mouth. Fruit juices are a better bet. They are also acidic but they are not in the same league as carbonated drinks.

rampant caries

This patient is a 32 year old male with rampant caries. He has admitted to poor oral hygiene and consumption of large volumes of carbonated drinks. There is also some use of recreational drugs.
One can note the typical pattern of caries at the cervical margin of the teeth extending back to the posterior molars.

As emergency treatment, all teeth have been thoroughly cleaned of plaque and calculus, symptomatic teeth have been treated with removal of peripheral caries.

As emergency treatment, all teeth have been thoroughly cleaned of plaque and calculus, symptomatic teeth have been treated with removal of peripheral caries.

cervical of the molars

A restoration is seen placed on the cervical of the molars that will help halt the caries destruction and keep the teeth on hold until some control has been achieved with the carious disease process.

disease from the early demineralization process on the lower lateral incisor,

This image shows the progress of the disease from the early demineralization process on the lower lateral incisor, to the brown staining on the canine, through to the totally broken down active stage of the disease on the lower first premolar.

Tongue and mouth piercing

Everything we do in life involves risks, and sometimes we like to change the way we look. Cosmetic dentistry involves changing the way we look and therefore, perhaps, the way we feel about ourselves. Mouth and tongue piercing also can change the way we look and feel about ourselves.

On the internet you can access a lot of information about mouth and tongue piercing. However, be aware that lip bolts and studs can cause minor, but critical damage. This won’t happen to everyone with a lip bolt. Ask for advice and check out the other risks so you approach body piercing as an informed consumer.

Bad Breath – HALITOSIS

Halitosis is an offensive odour coming from the mouth. Oral causes are responsible for 85% of cases, with the rest from non-dental sources, including problems with the tonsils, the upper respiratory tract, gastric reflux and some systemic diseases like diabetes or renal disease. Dieting with the production of ketones can also be implicated.

Oral malodour is linked to the release of volatile sulphur-based compounds produced by some bacteria, often associated with periodontal or gum disease and found on dental plaque and on the surface of the tongue. The amount of bacteria is directly related to oral hygiene and habits such as smoking. Causes can include retained food debris, a lack of salivary flow as a result of medication – xerostomia, or dry mouth – or the need to use dental appliances such as dentures or plates.

Dentists are used to assisting people with such issues and the patient should not feel embarrassed in attending for treatment and advice. A lack of treatment can only make the issue worse and lead to social withdrawal and isolation when both are entirely avoidable. It also should be remembered that halitosis is not a normal condition and may be a clue to other underlying illness, so seeking help for this problem may have other benefits.

Smoking and Dental Health

Smoking leads to dental problems, including:

  • Bad Breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Inflammation of the salivary gland openings on the roof of the mouth
  • Increased build up of plaque and calculus (tartar) on the teeth
  • Increased loss of bone within the jaw
  • Increased risk of leukoplakia – white patches inside the mouth
  • Increased risk of developing periodontal (gum) disease – a leading cause of tooth loss
  • Delayed healing process following tooth extraction, periodontal treatment, or oral surgery
  • Lower success rate of dental implant procedures
  • Increased risk of developing oral cancer

Quit, if you can.

If you can’t quit, cut back. Even a small step can make a big difference.

“Smokers who smoked less than half a pack per day were almost three times more likely than non-smokers to have periodontitis. Those who smoked more than a pack and a half per day had almost six times the risk.” – Center for Disease Control (CDC)

This makes sense; the fewer nasty chemicals you inhale, the less damage they do to your body.

If you can’t cut back yet, practice good hygiene anyway. If cutting back isn’t an option, try cleaning your teeth thoroughly every day. This includes brushing, flossing and rinsing with mouthwash.

Dr Pastorino can help. Of course, we can’t help you quit smoking, but once you have stopped poisoning yourself, Dr Pastorino can help you correct some of the damage. Your teeth can be thoroughly cleaned, and damage to your gums can often be addressed through surgery. Stained teeth can be whitened and severely stained teeth can be treated.

If you’ve already lost a few teeth due to cigarettes, you can have them replaced with implants.

The bottom line is that even organic cigarettes are hazardous to your health because the worst of the chemicals are created during the refining and smoking processes. If you can quit or cut back, now is the time to do so. Your teeth will thank you for it.

Wisdom teeth

You may find wisdom teeth (in the form of extra back molar teeth) coming through at about age 16 to 25. The problem is that you might not have enough room in your mouth for these teeth grow into a normal position. While they grow, a teething gel can be applied to relieve pain. A mouth rinse (chlorhexidine) may also assist in keeping the area free from bacteria and infection.

For many the only cure is to remove them. This can be simple or complicated depending on how the teeth have grown.

How to Alleviate Pain and Swelling After Wisdom Tooth Extraction

Recovery from a wisdom tooth extraction is often accompanied by varying degrees of pain and swelling. However, if you take certain precautions, you can prevent and alleviate the pain and swelling that occurs after this oral surgery.

  • It’s important to take time to relax after undergoing a wisdom tooth extraction procedure. Take a few days off from work or school and don’t overexert yourself. By resting, you’ll allow your body to heal more effectively and quickly.
  • If Dr Pastorino has prescribed special anti-inflammatory drugs or painkillers, it is a good idea to take them as soon as possible to prevent the onset of pain. If you do not receive a prescription, over-the-counter medicines such as Nurofen, panadiene, or panadol can be taken.
  • For the first 24 hours after wisdom tooth extraction, you may find relief by placing an ice pack on your jaw and alternating sides every 15 minutes. This will prevent your jaw and cheeks from swelling up and may even help to numb the pain. After the first 24 hours, try soaking a washcloth in hot water and pressing it against your jaw and cheeks. You can also gently bite down on a moistened tea bag. This may alleviate pain and swelling by allowing the muscles around your jaw to relax.
  • Try swishing warm salt water around in your mouth several times a day. This helps to stop swelling and will also clean your mouth to prevent infection in the extraction site.
  • Avoid solid foods for the first 24 hours following the oral surgery. Instead, opt for soft foods, such as yoghurt, smoothies, broth, and jelly. Introduce solid foods back into your diet gradually.
  • Avoid any activities that may cause you to overstretch your jaw. Do not spit, whistle, or use a straw for a few days following your wisdom tooth removal procedure. These activities will strain the jaw muscles, causing pain and swelling.
  • Keep your head elevated for several days following wisdom tooth extraction. When you sleep, prop up your head with a stack of pillows. This will not only prevent swelling, it will also help prevent excessive blood flow in your mouth.

Recovery from wisdom tooth extraction can be painful. However, if you take the proper steps to alleviate pain and swelling, you can recover and be back to normal within a few days.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please call our office at 9380 4700 or 0417 186 413.