Teenagers and their teeth do a lot of growing during their teen years. Sometimes, it seems like the pediatric dentist focuses only on younger children. However, just as many teenagers need help and support from their pediatric dentist during their teenage years. They face braces, decay and wisdom teeth among other issues.
As they transform from childhood to adulthood, your kids have a lot to worry about. Teenagers are facing “a time of rapid growth and change, physically, mentally and socially.”
Teenagers and Physical Appearance
You will undoubtedly notice that teenagers will become more and more concerned with their physical appearance. For example, hair will become a new fascination. Likewise, teenagers cast critical eyes on their skin. And they will have special issues with their teeth. “Facial appearance and bad breath are just a few new things for your teenagers to worry about as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood.”
Today’s families are busy with the demands of school, jobs and special activities. Certainly, teenagers are becoming more independent. Sure, we watch the little ones brush their teeth. In the early years, it’s fun to hang around the bathroom sink and brush together. However, as we give older children their privacy, we sometimes miss dental issues with our teenagers. (The cavities that result are a big price to pay.)
Teenagers get up early, stay up late and habitually devour junk food as they race through whirlwind schedules. That creates the perfect storm for cavities. Our mission in this blog is to help you find the best way to communicate with your teen. Likewise, he or she learns one very important lesson. The best way to maintain a beautiful smile (and avoid bad breath) is to continue the great dental hygiene they learned as children.
How to Keep Teenagers Teeth Healthy and Free of Decay
One of our favorite tips we give parents is simple, but you have to be subtle about it. You see, they must brush twice and floss at least once every day. Hopefully you can find subtle ways to persuade them to maintain the good dental hygiene of their early years in spite of their busy lives. Here’s our favorite technique and it works because they care about their appearance. Bad oral hygiene leads to more than fillings and caps. It “can lead to stains, bad breath, missing teeth,” and (don’t forget) pain. An unhealthy mouth is not attractive mouth. Remind your teen of possible “dating consequences.”
Secondly, we always hope parents will set a good example, even after the children get older. Did you know that “If you take good care of your teeth, your teenager will see that good oral hygiene is important to you.” Then, you won’t seem like a hypocrite when you give them little dental reminders or hints.
Five Dental Hygiene Motivational Tips from “Mom”
Let’s look at 5 easy persuasive tips to help your teenager have good dental hygiene.
1. Oral Hygiene On-the-Go
One subtle way you can influence your teenager’s dental hygiene is to have a plethora of oral health care products available. At Dentistry for Children, we know your shopping list: Spare, soft toothbrushes, flavored floss, plastic flossers and delicious toothpaste.
More than one busy mother we know will keep these supplies in a kitchen drawer as well as on the bathroom counter. Quicker than you can say, “EW!” they will tell you the shiny supplies come in handy for dental hygiene on-the-go. And teens are always on the go whether they’re running to ballet class or ball-practice.
2. Teenagers, Dental Hygiene and Snacks
You cannot be with your teen all the time when they eat. However, you have supreme control over what is in the kitchen. If you do not buy junk food , they can’t eat it when they are home. However, this also means you must provide healthy foods for snacking.
3. The Tobacco Talk
Not only smoking but also smokeless tobacco needs to part of a conversation you have with your teens. It might sound corny, but your teens need to hear your opinions on the danger of smoking, chewing and vaping. All of them bring oral health hazards. Prepare your teenagers to fight peer pressure and avoid the nicotine habits, both to save their general health and their oral health.
4. Teenagers Oral Health and Trendy Fashions
Avoiding Oral Piercings. We have discussed piercings of the lips and teeth in previous blogs. However, we note this here so parents realize that there are dangers and infections inherent in them. We don’t think oral piercings of the tongue and lips are a good idea at any age.
Let them see these choices go beyond fashion and style. “Oral piercings can have adverse affects on the health of your tongue, lips, cheeks and uvula. Oral problems associated with swallowed/aspirated jewelry, speech impairment, fractured teeth and gingival recession can occur.” As dental professionals, we can help you educate your teens on the hazards of such piercings.
5. Excessive Whitening
Today’s teenagers are love the style trend of with bright white teeth. Yes, there are whitening toothpastes, mouth rinses and toothbrushes. But the style can become an obsession. It can become damaging if over-done. We have blogged previously about this trend. Of course, we can provide guidance and treatment with safe, sane and professional advice.
Teenagers and Dental Hygiene: More to Come!
As you might have guessed, there’s more to teenager’s oral health than we can fit in one blog. Don’t worry, we will give you more secrets behind helping your teenager maintain his or her dental health in Part II, coming next week.
In closing, we are reminded of a particularly pertinent quote by Mark Twain. It just might reflect on how your teens will think of you in future years.
“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around.
But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”