Teens can often have poor oral hygiene or crowded/crooked teeth, leaving them more prone to cavities or other dental problems. There’s no doubt a lot is going on for teens, and sometimes their oral health is put on the back burner while they handle all of the other things going on in their lives. School, sports, part-time jobs, extracurricular activities, chores in the home and relationships with parents and siblings – not to mention their own physical, mental and emotional growth – might all take priority over the health of their teeth and gums.
It’s important to help them appreciate the value of a healthy smile in terms they can respect. Help them develop consistent daily habits like brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. A travel-size toothbrush in their backpack can help them remember to brush after meals or snacks on the run. Combined with a healthy diet and keeping regular dental cleanings, you can help them maintain an attractive appearance while fending off cavities, gingivitis and tooth loss.
Regularly seeing the dentist is more important than ever under these circumstances. It is normal to go in for a cleaning and exam every six months, but if they are wearing braces, have special needs or a family history of cavities, they may need to be seen more often.
When it comes to dental health and teenagers, it helps to recognize their emotional and mental well-being. On the one hand, at this stage of development, they are hyper-aware of their appearance, so their self-image depends on how happy they are with the way they fit in with their peers. If they are plagued with poorly aligned teeth or jaws, this can also affect their self-confidence. On the other hand, they are busier than ever and distracted with a variety of daily concerns. So, it’s no wonder that for young people between five and seventeen years of age, tooth decay is the number one chronic disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Diet is particularly tricky when it comes to teens since sugary foods like candy and energy drinks are often popular and easy to access. They also tend to eat on the go, opting for fast food or nutrition bars high in refined carbohydrates. If they are grazing – eating throughout the day – their teeth may be exposed to sugar constantly. You want to encourage them to make healthier choices by providing easy access to tooth-friendly snacks such as cheese sticks, carrot sticks or apples they can eat anywhere. Limit their access to carbonated drinks, especially soda, and offer healthier alternatives like water, milk and juices instead. Their teeth will not only appreciate the healthy nutrients but their overall health as well.
In addition to dietary concerns, teens might also engage in unhealthy habits while they navigate the world around them. This may involve experimenting with tobacco or alcohol, or body or oral piercings. Inform your teens about the dangers of unhealthy habits so they can protect their smile.
If you would like more information on how to establish healthy dental habits with your teen, feel free to give us a call today! We’ll be happy to assist you and your children achieve great smiles for years to come.