Dental health during the teen years offers another set of challenges. For most parents, this doesn't come as a big surprise. A dizzying number of changes strike during these formative years, and parents often experience a few frustrations along the way.
Teens listen more than we realize, and pestering parents can make a tremendous difference in the dental future of your young adult. You might feel like you’re nagging, but teens are always listening and believe it or not, the constant reminders to brush, floss, and eat well will sink in. Don't underestimate any encouragement given to help your teen avoid the long-term effects of cavities and gum inflammation.
Preventive visits every six months provide us with an opportunity to coach your teen and reinforce the efforts you're making with them. Sometimes the rapport we establish in a professional, yet friendly, setting proves especially effective. Plus, we can share problems with them through visual aids while reinforcing any positive efforts they're making.
Tips for home efforts that protect your teen's dental health:
- Limit sodas and energy drinks. Sugary carbonated drinks are the number one cause of tooth decay in adolescents. Many 20-ounce bottles of soda have 18 teaspoons of sugar in an extremely acidic liquid. The combination can be devastating for teeth as well as their overall health.
- Encourage brushing before bedtime. The hours spent sleeping can be especially harmful as the mouth dries out and bacterial plaque flourishes.
- Explain the dangers of sharing toothbrushes. Explain the dangers of sharing toothbrushes and that bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities can easily transfer from one person to another.
- Slip in dental floss or a toothpick with their lunch or backpack.