Empowering Teens to Take Control of their Oral Health
Teenagers in general have notoriously bad dental habits. It is not uncommons for us to see parents are a bit embarrassed by their teenager’s bad brushing habits. So, parents… we want you to know: It’s OK. We work together with you, as a team to help educate your teenager about the value of good dental care, and help them take responsibility for their long-term dental care.
Here are a few things to consider about your teenager and their dental care.
1) 6-month dental check-ups. The single-most important thing you can do for your teen is to teach them to make and keep 6-month dental check-ups. These visits give us a chance to check for cavities and other dental issues, and remind your son/daughter about proper brushing and flossing techniques to keep teeth heathy in-between visits. These visits are vital in preventing major dental issues later in life.
2) Braces make everything harder. Many teens have braces, and all of that hardware and the rubber bands make brushing thoroughly that much harder. However, there are several options, including small and differently shaped brushes that can help your teen get in-between the hardware and brush. We can show you and your teen some techniques and options, and we can also schedule additional cleanings to help your son/daughter make it through the “braces-years” with cavity-free teeth.
3) Teens are… well… can be lazy. With little kids, we help them brush, we remind them, we bribe them. But then, the kids get a little older and we reserve our pestering to reminding them about curfew, and getting the college applications done. Oral care and hygiene is not something to be overlooked. The more the healthy habits of brushing and flossing are ingrained now, the better your child’s dental health in their dental health as adults.
4) Consequences are hard to understand. It’s tough for a 13 or 15 year old to understand the consequences of aroot canal, or losing a tooth while you’re chewing. We don’t always talk to our kids honestly about how maintaining proper dental care is a lot better than having to manage bone loss from periodontal disease in their 50s or 60s. We talk about not getting cavities, gentle reminders to brush better and floss, and then a more stern warning when it’s time to fill the cavities. It is important to honestly share with your teens the long-term effects of neglecting oral care—because it can become a serious, painful, and life-altering issue.
5) Healthy food habits may not be a priority yet. A teens new freedom of movement and choice may mean that less-than-healthy choices about sodas, candies, and fast foodmay be part of their routine. As parents, we should always limit the amount of high sugar foods available in the house and remind kids to take it easy on the unhealthy options at school and friends’ houses. Soda and sticky candies are not only bad for teeth, , they can also cause other health problems such as unhealthy weight gain and diabetes.
Your teen may not appreciate good dental care now, but the work and routine put into clean healthy teeth will be something they will have their entire lives. Years of pain, discomfort, health issues and dental procedures will be avoided—and that is a great gift indeed.