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How to get teens to take care of their teeth…

We know that when kids get to be teens, they have their own way of doing things. But proper dental hygiene is one area that they need to understand that
“mother knows best”!

Help them establish good habits

Teens are always on the go. So getting them to slow down long enough to brush two to the minutes twice a day can be tough. Telling them to do something usually backfires…so maybe you can “suggest” to them to brush the entire length of a song or set their phone’s timer as a way to prompt them to not hurry this process.

Cater to their tastes

We are not only talking about the brand of minty toothpaste they like; we’re also talking about things that make them want to take care of their teeth like new lines of toothbrushes in bright fun colors and shapes. Shannon Norton, a dental hygienist at Colorado Healthy Smiles in Lafayette, Colorado told us about a new, ultra soft Curaprox brush that dental professionals really like (I love the light blue one with lime green bristles!). She also tells us that they carry all types on new and different dental-based products in the office for patients to try – for instance, BLACK, charcoal-based whitening toothpaste!

Limit sugar

Sugar is EVERYWHERE and in nearly EVERYTHING we eat. And, teens seem to find more than their share in their much favored sodas, chips, pizzas and candy-based diets. It is estimated by the American Dental Association that over 15% of kids have dental decay and untreated cavities. What’s a mother to do? Try to keep healthy drinks and snacks available for them to grab-and-go. Offer things like sugar-free gums, bottled vitamin water, cheese, whole grain breads and crackers and cut up veggies and dip. You can’t make sure every one of their dietary choices is good, but you can help a bit!

Know what’s important to THEM

Teens are concerned about a lot of things…and their looks and popularity ranks high on the list! Make sure they are gently reminded that brushing and flossing not only fights cavities – but helps prevent yellow teeth and bad breath, as well.

Guard those pearly whites

A lot of teen activities put their smiles at risk. When they are skateboarding, skiing and participating in organized sports, it’s best to protect their teeth from getting broken or knocked out with a quality mouthguard. But remember, trampolines and bikes have their risks, too. There are a number of different types of mouth guards, ask your dentist to advise your teen of the one that will work best for them.

And don’t forget…

Sealants are a teen’s best friend (and mom’s BFF, too!) When it comes to protecting cavity-prone areas of the mouth; like the grooves in the back teeth. Easily and quickly applied by your dental professional, they are an effective and low cost way to keep teeth from decay. BUT…
Make sure your teen knows that this doesn’t give them a hall pass for not brushing and flossing!

Author Info

Dan Stratford