The teenage years are notorious for big changes. A lot of awkward physical developments, a lot of relationship turmoil, a lot of crazy schedules and extra-curricular activities on top of school. With so many changes and distractions, it’s easy for dental health to become the bottom priority in a teen’s mind. And it shows.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have proven that the most common chronic disease among teenagers is dental cavities. So if you’re a parent of a teenager, here are five tips on how to help manage your teen’s dental habits.
1. Staying on Top of Things
Before managing your teen’s dental habits, make sure you’re managing your own first. Kids and teenagers do what they see so it’s important to get your oral health in check.
Some good dental habits to get into would be:
- Brushing twice a day
- Brushing with the right technique (not too hard; not straight after eating or drinking as some foods/drinks are acidic)
- Replacing your toothbrush every 3-4 months
- Flossing daily
- Flossing with the right technique
- Going to the dentist twice a year
- Maintaining a healthy diet (foods and drinks that naturally whiten your teeth can be a bonus)
2. Making Time in the Chaos
Amidst the hectic schedule (bouncing between homework, sport, music, a part-time job, hanging out with friends, etc.), two minutes to brush teeth sounds like a monumental task.
Packing a travel toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss into their backpack may be an easy way to remind your teen to brush their teeth. Also, encourage them to eat teeth-friendly snacks such as strawberries, apples, or cheese instead of chocolate bars or sugary chewing gum.
3. No Goal without a Guard
Sport- and exercise-related oral trauma can be frequent among teenagers. That’s why mouth guards are essential, especially with any contact sport. You can get a generic mouth guard at your local chemist.
A more comfortable option for your teen would be getting a personalised mouth guard at your local dentist. The mouth guard will be fitted to their teeth so that it won’t be loose or jutting painfully into their cheeks. Dentists can tailor mouth guards to fit over braces so there’s no excuse not to get one today for your teen.
4. Brace Yourself
As teenagers acquire all their adult teeth by 12 or 13 years old, most orthodontic work will take place in the teenage years. It’s incredibly important to stress to your child that vigilance with dental health is vital if they have braces.
Admittedly, braces make conventional methods of brushing and flossing difficult so a lot of teens neglect their oral health. But what’s the point of having a straight smile with heaps of cavities when the braces get taken off?
The orthodontist will provide specific instructions on how to brush and floss teeth with braces attached and it is imperative that your teen follows those instructions thoroughly and daily.
5. Don’t Neglect the Dentist
Finally, consistent visits to the dentist is very important. An appointment every six months maintains preventative measures: the dentist will be able to detect any cavities or gum disease early and will provide the appropriate treatment.
A glowing smile will help boost your teen’s confidence so help them manage their dental habits today so they can keep on smiling.