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How To Manage Your Teen’s Dental Habits

by Louise W. Rice
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The importance of teaching your teens how to practice good dental care during their teen years cannot be overstated. However, raising teens and getting them to adhere to good dental habits can be tricky.

While most teens are more responsible than younger children, they still need help maintaining good dental practices. Family dental care should involve teaching your teens the right dental habits.

The following tips should help get your efforts off to a superb start:

Never Let Them Go to Sleep without Brushing Their Teeth

The general recommendation is to brush the teeth at least twice daily. Unfortunately, many teens often forego brushing their teeth, especially at night. Brushing the teeth at night is crucial to get rid of all the plaque and germs that have accumulated during the day.

Encourage Them to Use a Fluoride Toothpaste

Certain factors need to be considered when choosing the right toothpaste. One of the essential considerations is it should contain fluoride. While fluoride has been under scrutiny for many years now, it is still considered one of the prime defenses against tooth decay. Fluoride provides a protective barrier for the teeth and fights germs that cause tooth decay.

Ensure They Brush Their Teeth Properly

Contrary to popular belief, brushing alone won’t suffice. If your teens don’t brush their teeth properly, it’s almost as bad as not brushing at all. When brushing the teeth, encourage them to take their time.

Also, when brushing, teach them to move the toothbrush in gentle circular motions to remove plaque. Once plaque hardens, it can lead to tartar buildup and early gum disease or gingivitis.

Teach Them Not to Neglect Their Tongues

This might not be common knowledge, but plaque can also build up on the tongue. That means neglecting the tongue will not only lead to bad breath, it can also result in other oral health issues. In line with this, teach your teens to gently brush their tongues each time they brush their teeth.

Encourage Them to Use a Mouthwash

Many people don’t use mouthwash because they don’t know how it works. If truth be told, mouthwashes offer a lot of peerless benefits. For instance, it helps clean hard-to-reach areas in and around the gums, it minimizes the amount of acid in the mouth, and it remineralizes teeth.

Check with your dentist for any mouthwash recommendations. There are specific ones that are best for teens and children and those with sensitive teeth. Prescription mouthwash may also be provided.

Teach Them the Importance of Brushing

While many teens brush their teeth regularly, they often neglect to floss. More than getting rid of those pieces of food that get stuck in between the teeth, flossing is an excellent way to reduce plaque, lower inflammation, and stimulate the gums.

In some cases, flossing can be tricky for teens. Rather than giving up, help them look for tools that can help them floss with ease. Ready-to-use dental flossers, for starters, can be real game-changers.

Limit Their Intake of Acidic and Sugary Foods

Ultimately, sugar is converted into acid in the mouth. The acid that forms can erode the teeth’s enamel. Acidic foods and beverages like teas, fruits, and coffee may also wear down the tooth enamel. The idea is not to let your teens avoid acidic foods and drinks altogether but to take them in moderation.

Encourage Them to Drink More Water

Water can do wonders for your child’s overall health, including their oral health. As a general rule of thumb, encourage them to drink water after every meal. Drinking water after every meal can help wash out the remaining food debris that’s left in between brushes.

Encourage Your Teens to Visit the Dentist Twice Yearly

Everyday habits are crucial to your child’s overall health, including their oral health. Even if they brush and floss regularly, it is still recommended that they visit their dentist twice yearly for routine check-ups.

Regular dental check-ups can help ensure cavities are removed and any potential issues are treated before they become major issues that can become costly to fix and can affect their overall oral health.

Your Teen’s Oral Teeth: Other Tips to Remember

Brushing the Teeth

If your teen is not a fan of brushing, teaching them the importance of brushing is an excellent place to start. They must know that brushing can do more than keep their teeth clean.

Brushing can also help prevent bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. Besides teaching your teens the importance of brushing their teeth, you can also teach them the basics of brushing. For starters:

• When brushing, use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Aim the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards their gum line.

• Teach them to start with the top teeth first. Then teach them to brush the teeth’s outside surface using gentle circular motions.

• When brushing chewing surfaces, use a light forward and backward motion.

• Brush the teeth gently for at least two minutes. Don’t forget to remind them to also brush the tongue.

Picking a Toothbrush

When picking a toothbrush, look for the following characteristics:

• Opt for a toothbrush with soft bristles so it won’t damage the tooth enamel or gums.
• Opt for a toothbrush with a long handle, so reaching the teeth at the back is easier.
• Opt for a toothbrush with a small head, so moving it around is straightforward.
• Ideally, the toothbrush should be replaced every three to four months or as soon as the bristles are worn out.

Visiting the Dentist

As mentioned earlier, visiting the dentist regularly is recommended (twice a year is ideal). Depending on your teens’ needs, they might need to see other oral health professionals, including dental hygienists, dental therapists, and orthodontists.

Over to You

Helping your teens develop good dental habits can be tricky if you don’t know where to start. Hopefully, the tips you’ll find in this article can help your teens develop great oral habits that will benefit them for life.


Dr Megan Peterson BoyleAuthor Bio: Dr. Megan Peterson Boyle is the lead cosmetic dentist with Dental Studio 101 in Scottsdale, Arizona. She is focused on providing anxiety-free cosmetic dentistry services including invisalign, dental implants, dental crowns, and cosmetic fillings. She enjoys spending time outdoors with her friends and family.

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