As a teen or young adult, your mouth and teeth face a number of challenges. Sugary foods and drinks, alcohol, tobacco and both legal and illegal drugs all cause damage to your teeth and gums.

This interactive presentation illustrates the effects of sugar on your body, including your teeth.

Oral Heath Risks


Constant snacking during the day can put you at risk for developing cavities, especially when choosing treats high in sugar or foods that stick to your teeth.

Sugary drinks

Soft drinks, sports drinks and even juice contain high amounts of sugar that cause damage to your teeth. But it's not just sugar-induced tooth decay that you have to worry about. All soft drinks – even the sugar-free ones – contain acid that erodes tooth enamel.


Alcohol contains sugar and acid that can damage your teeth and gums and leave your mouth susceptible to infection and decay. Alcohol abuse also puts you at a higher risk of developing mouth and throat cancer.


Smoking and vaping are the leading causes of oral cancer. Using tobacco can mask the signs of disease in your mouth making it difficult for your dentist to see when there's a problem. There are also oral health risks related to smoking or vaping cannabis.


Oral piercings pose a number of risks and may cause damage to your mouth, including chipped teeth, damaged gums, swelling and nerve damage.


A reminder that, beginning September 2017, the HPV vaccine is offered to all Grade 6 students, regardless of gender. There is not a ‘catch-up’ program for boys older than Grade 6, however the program does cover the vaccine for high risk boys and young men up to age 26. This program change is due in part to the continued lobbying efforts of the British Columbia Dental Association. Learn more at Immunize BC.

Prevention - What You Can Do

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