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Health checks for teens

Here are the health checks that are important for teenagers

Dentist doing a dental check-up on teen boy
Dentist doing a dental check-up on teen boy

Snapstreaks to school stress, body image to bullies, peer pressure to part-time work – there’s a lot on your teen’s plate that they are and aren’t always sharing with you. For some it is, so far, the best years of their lives, but for others it can be a struggle. For most, their days, weeks and months will be a bit of both – it's quite the ride. Add hormones to parenting a teenager, and you’re forgiven for feeling like you’re nailing jelly to the wall.

The one thing you can fully support them on, though, is their medical checks. With conflicting priorities at school and home, this isn’t an area of their lives they’ll have top of mind. However, a healthy foundation built during this decade will have a significantly positive influence on their future.

Speaking openly with your child about their health and wellbeing is crucial, but it can be hard to know where to start. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of health checks and simple tests that are designed to catch conditions at an early stage, even if your child isn’t experiencing any symptoms. 

What health checks should a teenager be having?

Your GP (general practitioner) should be the first port of call as to which health checks are a good idea for your child’s age and stage of life. But, as a general overview, here are a few health checks that are important for teenagers:

For teenage boys:

For teenage girls:

Is your teen close to 18? Get them started with a free entry point for health cover benefits. Join GreenPass today.

Blood pressure check

Blood pressure can sound like a ‘Boomer’ problem but it is an issue at any age, including teen years. It is usually symptomless. It’s a good idea to get your blood pressure checked from the age of 18 to pick up any heart issues. It’s a simple check that only takes a couple of minutes.

What is a blood pressure check?

A blood pressure test measures pressure in the arteries as a heart pumps. This test is conducted in a doctor’s surgery using a blood pressure machine and cuff.

How often should my teenager have a blood pressure check?

At least every two years, starting from age 18.

Who does a blood pressure check?

A doctor or nurse.

Related: Your blood pressure and how to measure it from home

Dental check-up

Regular dental check-ups for your teenager are important; teeth should look healthy and be healthy to stop serious gum and oral issues. Conditions that affect your teeth and mouth (such as gum disease and tooth decay) can seriously affect your overall health, can be painful and costly to repair in the short and long term.

If you have nib Extras cover, you can claim your dental check-up at any dentist recognised by nib. But if you visit an nib Dental Care Centre1 eligible members can receive 100% back on dental check ups. Book an appointment online today.

What is a dental check-up?

A dental check-up involves an examination of the mouth, teeth, and lips. Dentists also usually clean the teeth and gums and may offer fluoride treatment.

How often should my teenager have a dental check-up?

At least once a year, but ideally every six months.

Who does a dental check-up?


Growth check

This does exactly what it says on the label – checks your height and weight to make sure your teen is growing at a good rate (and not underweight or overweight). 

“Remember, we all come in different shapes and sizes, so it’s not a competition as to who is the tallest, fittest or most developed,” points out GP Dr Michela Sorensen. “It’s about checking in to make sure you are continuing to grow and develop in a nice, steady and healthy way.” 

What is a growth check?

A GP will measure your teenager's weight in kilograms and height in metres to figure out your body mass index (BMI). Age-specific BMI charts will determine whether your teen is in the healthy BMI range. 

How often should my teenager have a growth check?

Every two years.

Who does a growth check?


Teen mental health check

Unfortunately, teens – especially those with a personal or family history of mental health concerns, a chronic illness and/or those who’ve been through a major negative life event (such as being bullied) – are at increased risk of depression. Your doctor will want to make sure your teenager isn't experiencing any mental health problems or if they are struggling with their mental health, they’ll work with your teenager to identify those challenges and develop a treatment plan.

If you’re a teen experiencing mental health issues, or you’re raising a teen, Head to Health provides links to trusted Australian resources and treatment options. 

What is a mental health check?

Your doctor will ask your teen questions about their feelings and behaviours, as well as study, relationships, sexuality, and body image.

“Mental health affects not only how you are feeling, such as happy, sad or anxious, but it can affect you physically too,” explains Michela. “So, a doctor will ask about your overall mood, but they will also check a range of other things such as your sleep, your appetite, your energy levels, and your overall enjoyment of things. They will also chat with you about how things are going at school, at home and with your friends.

“Depending on what you talk about, they might also want to order some blood tests to make sure there are no other things affecting your mood, for example, low iron levels,” she adds.

How often should my teenager have this check?

If you don’t feel the need for a more regular check, a mental health check-up should happen every few months when you visit your GP or other health care provider.

If you need urgent support, call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14. 

Who does a mental health check?


Skin check

Fact: Every person living in Australia will develop at least some degree of sun-related 
skin damage during their life.  There are some sun safety myths we need to stop believing, and while most of us don’t get skin cancers in our teenage years, it is possible. All you need to do is be aware of how your skin normally looks and see a doctor if you notice a new spot or change in a mole.

What is a skin check?

A skin check involves a doctor checking over your entire body for skin cancers or suspicious lesions. Often they’ll use a specialised tool called Dermlite Lumio that magnifies and illuminates your skin for a thorough examination. If any moles need closer inspection, they may use a dermatoscope for an even more detailed view. 

How often should my teenager have a skin check?

There are no set intervals for most people. But for people at high risk (anyone who’s had 
melanoma or who has more than five moles with an unusual appearance), a skin self-examination should be done every three months and a full body examination by your doctor every 6-12 months.

Keen to find out your risk of skin cancer? Learn more about your risk of skin cancer using nib’s skin assessment. 

nib's free entry point for access to health and wellbeing products and services, GreenPass, offers online skin assessments, too. 

Who does a skin check?

Your GP (general practitioner) or a dermatologist (skin specialist).

Related: How a skin cancer check can save your life

Sexual health check

If your teenager is 15 years or older and sexually active, it’s recommended they get a sexual health check to support protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and pregnancy.

“You [your teenager] might feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about talking about sexual health with your doctor, but remember, doctors talk about this stuff ALL the time,” Michela says reassuringly. “It is their job to provide advice and guidance, with no judgement. Whatever you say to your doctor is private, and even if your parents see the same doctor, they can’t tell them about anything you discuss.” 

What is a sexual health check?

A GP will ask your teen questions about their sexual activity. A physical examination is not always necessary, but a sample of urine, a swab from their genitals and/or a blood test may be taken for testing.

“Make sure you find a doctor who you feel comfortable with, who you can talk to and trust. This will definitely help the process,” Michela advises. 

How often should my teenager have this check?

It depends on their level of risk, which is based on their age and sexual practices.

Who does the check?

A GP or health professional (doctor or nurse) at a Sexual Health or Family Planning Clinic.

Self-check of testicles

Formal screening tests are not needed for testicle checks, however it’s important for your teenager to be aware of how their testicles normally feel.

If you're a teen and you notice any lumps, changes, or new symptoms, don’t be embarrassed – but do see a doctor.

What is a testicle self-check?

Being familiar with the usual feel of your testicles.

How often should my teenager have this check?

It’s an ongoing self-assessment.

Who does the check?

Your teen does.

Related: How a testicle cancer check can save your life

Breast awareness

Being breast aware means being familiar with the usual look and feel of your breasts. Teenage girls are likely to notice normal breast changes as they develop through puberty, but there are some changes that they should see a doctor about, such as lumps, nipple changes or nipple discharge.

What is breast awareness?

Being familiar with the usual look and feel of your breasts.

How often should my teenager have this check?

It’s an ongoing self-assessment.

Who does the check?

Your teen does.

Related: How a breast cancer check can save your life

Is it time for a health cover check-up?

At nib, we’re committed to keeping you and your loved ones at your healthiest, which is why we’ve put together a list of teens.

Everyone’s health cover needs are different. To help you understand what level of cover is best suited to your family, contact our cover experts today.

Please note: This is not an all-inclusive list; there may be other health checks that are recommended based on your teenager’s age and individual circumstances. The tips throughout this article serve as broad information and should not replace any advice you or your child has been given by a medical practitioner. Please make an appointment with your GP for advice on the health checks your teenager will need based on their personal circumstances.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are at increased risk of many diseases, and so are often recommended to start health checks at an earlier age. It may also be recommended to have the tests or checks more often. Please see your GP for personalised advice for your teenager.

1 Payment by nib of dental benefits is subject to serving relevant waiting periods, annual limits and service limits. Check your cover by visiting Online Services or call 13 16 42. The dental check-up covers an examination (011, 012), scale and clean (114) or removal of plaque (111), fluoride treatment (121) and bite-wing or periapical x-rays (022, maximum of 2 per year), as deemed necessary and appropriate in the clinical opinion of the dentist (dentures not included). The services provided will be deducted from your annual limits and/or service limits. The 100% back offer is not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or government scheme, nor substitutable or redeemable for cash and is only available with dentists who have a preferred provider agreement with nib. ~nib Dental Care Centres are owned and operated by Pacific Smiles Group Limited ABN 42 103 087 449. The nib Dental Care Centre trademark is owned by nib health funds ABN 83 000 124 381 and is used under license by Pacific Smiles Group Limited.

Fact checked by Dr Hamish Black January 2024