Teenagers are often distracted in their daily lives, and sometimes their dental health suffers. We know that successful oral hygiene skills are best learned at a young age, however, even the most meticulous preparation may fall short when facing the teen years. Our dental team encourages parents to guide their teens with grace and patience in digestible doses. This seems to be the key to success in nearly every area of their life, including oral hygiene.
Here are some practical tips for parents to encourage their teen’s oral health care:
- Keep sugar to a minimum in your home. It’s not always possible to control what teenagers do away from home, but limiting sugary foods in the home is a good first step. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than ten teaspoons of sugar a day, which is equivalent to about a 12-ounce can of soda. Unfortunately, the average child consumes 32 teaspoons of sugar per day. Your teen’s teeth are not the only thing sugar wreaks havoc on, it is also harmful to their overall health in the long run.
To help your teen reduce their sugar intake, we suggest the following:
*Replace sweetened beverages with water.
*Avoid serving processed foods.
*Keep healthy snacks on hand at all times.
*At every meal, include fresh fruit and vegetables.
*Prepare homemade meals, so you can control the amount of sugar your teen consumes.
- You should keep your teen stocked with ADA approved toothpaste, floss, and antiseptic/fluoride mouthwash. Teens may not tell you if they run out, so it’s best to keep a stockpile where they have easy access to it. Remember, out of sight truly can mean out of mind for our teens.
- Lastly, giving teens simple, non-demanding reminders to brush and floss is always a wise idea. It’s even better if you can insert humor with your reminders; teens tend to respond to humor better than orders.
It is no secret that the teen years are challenging. We want to partner with you to make sure your teen has a positive dental experience. Your efforts as a parent may seem futile at times, but perseverance will pay off. As a part of your teen’s bi-annual dental cleanings and checkups, we will reinforce dental hygiene education in a way that you and your teen will both be able to understand. We believe that teamwork makes the dream work!