Promoting Proper Oral Hygiene Habits in Teenagers
Teens are busy and active with school, sports, social events, and other activities that often make it seem like they do not have time to brush their teeth twice a day and floss once a day. On top of their active schedules, they tend to consume excessive amounts of junk food, surgery sodas, and fast food, even if they are eating healthy meals at home.
These two factors alone can be the underlying cause why your teen is struggling with tooth decay and cavities every time they visit their North York dentist for their bi-annual checkups. It is not surprising that many teens, who do not adequately care for their teeth, develop many cavities during their teen years, only to wish later, once they reach adulthood, they would have taken better care of their teeth and gums.
As a parent, there are several things you can do to help encourage proper oral hygiene habits in your teen and help them strive to become and remain cavity-free.
Remind your teen that their teeth and oral health affect how they look.
Teenagers care about their appearance a great deal. If you can help them understand poor dental habits can lead to staining and tooth decay, which can cause further problems, like chronic bad breath, excessive cavities, and missing teeth from poor care, it could help provide the motivation they need to get them to follow better dental care habits.
Allow your teen to choose their own dental care products.
Part of the reason they may not like to brush and floss could be due to the dental care products they have available. If you are buying the toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental floss, and rinse aids, they may not like the tastes of these products or dislike how the brush feels against their gums and teeth. By allowing your teen to select their own products, with guidance from your dentist, it gives them more responsibility and at the same time, often results in them taking a more active role in regular brushing and flossing.
Stock up on oral care products and have them readily available throughout the home.
Since your teen is busy, it can be beneficial to keep toothbrushes, toothpaste, and floss in more than one bathroom throughout the home. For instance, if your teen frequently uses two different bathrooms, like one downstairs and one upstairs, make sure to stock both, so your teen has easier access, like when they are in a hurry to get someplace, but need to brush their teeth.
Teach your Teens the 3 keys for Dental Decay:
To develop cavities, only 3 things are needed:
- Plaque (the bacteria in plaque consume the sugar in your mouth and convert the sugar to acid which dissolves tooth enamel and dentin and this results in a cavity)
Without these 3 things, cavities can’t form. It is important for your teeth to understand that sugar is not just found in candies. Sugar is a predominant ingredient in most processed foods. Teach your teen to read labels for hidden sugars (most things ending in “ose” such as sucrose and maltose are other names for sugar).
In fact, teach your teen to eat healthy foods by avoiding processed foods and instead of eating whole foods. Remember that any food that lists sugar in the first 3 ingredients on the label, contains too much sugar and should be avoided.
Lead by example.
When you take care of your own teeth, floss once a day, brush twice a day, eat healthy foods and visit the dentist at least twice a year, your teen will see you care just as much about your teeth and oral health as you do for theirs.
For more ideas and suggestions on how to motivate and encourage proper oral hygiene habits in your teen or to schedule a preventive checkup, please feel free to contact the dental office of Dr. Carol Waldman at 416.445.6000 today!