Main Article Content


Background: In dentistry, adolescents are an important reference group, since during this period the main dental and maxillary changes occur and their identity is consolidated, which will define their future attitude towards oral health.
Methodology: In the years of 1997 through 2007, the National Center for Biotechnology PUBMED data base was searched for articles about adolescent bio-psychosocial features. The search was limited to articles in English and Spanish.
Results: Hormonal changes increase weight, stature, muscular and bone mass, and include the acquisition of the secondary sexual characteristics. Regarding oral health, the incidence of dental caries and periodontal disease peaks during these years. In terms of psychosocial characteristics, adolescents solidify their identity in this time. There is an evolution from an auto-erotic focus to heterosexuality, show emotional fluctuations, vindicatory social attitudes, and there is a progressive separation from their parents and preferential association with their peers. These changes can lead to problems such as alcoholism, use of psychoactive substances and pregnancy.
Conclusions: Adolescents undergo substantial physical and emotional changes. Adolescence is a critical age, for that reason it is important to pay special attention to it, as this period is complex and has an impact on several aspects of oral health. It would be valid to utilize the strategies practiced in other countries to help oral health outcomes during these years, i.e., the inclusion of teaching sessions on adolescence in health programs at university level.

Ana Cristina Mafla, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia

Directora Grupo GIOD, Facultad de Odontología, Universidad Cooperativa de Colombia, Seccional Pasto, Colombia.
Mafla, A. C. (2008). Adolescence: bio-psychosocial changes and oral health. Colombia Medica, 39(1), 41–57.


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