Our teenaged children have a great deal more freedom than they had as young children. While young ones can count on parents to be sure that they eat right and brush and floss daily, older kids sometimes make choices that are counterproductive to a healthy, cavity-free smile. How can you, as a parent, help your teen undertake the responsibility of developing and maintaining good dental habits? Here are some tips!
Let the Facts Do the Talking
It’s a normal developmental tendency for teens to reject parental advice. After all, part of being a teen is learning to become independent! Sharing information about dental topics, such as brushing, flossing, nutrition, gum disease and other topics from the web will enable your child to view the facts on his own and make positive choices.
One fact you may wish to share with your teen is that almost 60% of kids between 12 and 19 have at least one cavity (according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research). Cavities can largely be avoided simply by brushing and flossing daily!
Make Compliance Turnkey
Teens are busy people: sports, music lessons, scouting, gymnastics and other activities keep them on the run. Make it easy for them to comply with a positive dental program by giving them the tools they need, including:
- An electric toothbrush
- A water flosser
- A timer to help them brush and floss for 2 minutes twice a day
Avoid Arguments about Teeth
One thing every parent knows: the more you push, the more they resist. Make brushing and flossing important to them, rather than compelling them because it’s important to you. Here are some ideas:
- Brushing and flossing gives you fresh breath.
- Taking care of your teeth now avoids dental problems later.
- Soda & sports drinks bathe teeth in acid & destroy dental enamel. Water helps wash away foods to keep breath fresh!
- Both smoking & chew make teeth yellow and breath smell like an ashtray, and can cause oral cancer, even in teens!
- Drugs destroy teeth. Check out the photos of anyone with a history of meth and the results are obvious.
- Sugarless gum is a great tool to freshen breath, especially when brushing isn’t possible!
- Tongue and lip piercings increase the risk of infection
The very best way to maintain dental health throughout the teen years is to get your child in to see me for those twice-yearly check-ups! Because I’m not your child’s mom, he or she might just listen to me when I share advice about dental care, and I can catch problems early on, before they become more difficult to manage.