Dental health during 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.
But teens listen more than we realize, and pestering parents can make a tremendous difference in the dental future of these young adults. Oral home care habits tend to slide, sometimes to the point of complete neglect. Increased independence may lead to eating and drinking habits that harm oral and overall health. 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 contain 18 teaspoons of sugar in an extremely acidic liquid. The combination can be devastating for teeth.
Encourage brushing before bedtime. Night hours can be especially harmful as the mouth dries out and bacterial plaque flourishes.
Explain the dangers of sharing toothbrushes. Teens love to share everything, even toothbrushes. The bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities can easily transfer from one person to the next through this method.
Slip in dental floss or a toothpick with their lunch or backpack.