A Healthy Smile: How to Help Your Teen Achieve Great Dental Health

See that your teen has a happy, healthy smile by encouraging them to follow these oral hygiene practices and exploring these dental care options.

As every parent knows, a lot of time and effort goes into ensuring that our children have healthy smiles and strong teeth. But what about when they get a little older – is it still necessary to double-check their oral hygiene practices? 

It would seem so. Fifty-nine percent of American adolescents aged 12 to 19 have dental caries in their permanent teeth. And 20 percent of teens have untreated tooth decay. 

Although brushing your teen kid’s teeth for them might not be an option anymore, it’s important that you encourage good oral health and educate them about the benefits of different dental care options.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to help your teens achieve great dental health!

Reiterate the Basics

You might feel like you’ve been telling your kids to brush twice a day, avoid sugary drinks, and floss daily since the dawn of time. They must know all this by now, right?

Even still, it could be a good time to reiterate the basics so that they’re 100 percent clear about what good oral hygiene actually means. And, now that they’re older and able to understand more complex information, explaining the why behind these practices might help them remember everything better. 

For example, rather than telling them to brush before bed and leaving it at that, tell them that this gets rid of the bacteria in their mouths from the day, preparing and protecting their teeth throughout the night. If they’re motivated by gross facts, you might even want to explain that they have as many as six billion bacteria in their mouths. Or that the sticky plaque that forms on their teeth is a waste product of that bacteria – aka bacteria poop. Ewww! 

Lead By Example

It’s no good telling your teens to look after their teeth if you don’t do the same. Your child’s teenage years will see them seek independence and start questioning your authority. But leading by example is a good way to show them what to do instead of telling them all the time. 

Highlight your commitment to good oral health by announcing the actions you take to maintain strong teeth. These might include going to floss your teeth after a meal or opting to drink water rather than a sugary beverage.  

Any adults in the household should also make a point of keeping regular dental appointments and marking them on a visible family planner. If your teen has to go to the dentist but knows that you don’t, this can create conflict and an unwillingness to maintain good oral hygiene as a result. 

Upgrade Their Dental Tools

A great way to get your teen excited about dental care is to upgrade their toothbrush to an electric one. Especially if you let them choose the model and color from a selection within your budget. 

Electric toothbrushes are also more effective than manual versions. Switching ensures that they’ll do a better job of it when they do clean their teeth. Although, you’ll have to show them how to use their new electric toothbrush for the best results. Explain that they only need to guide it across their teeth rather than brushing up and down as they would with a manual toothbrush. 

If you can stretch to it, you might also want to invest in an electric flosser. Many models have removable tips so that the whole family can use the same flosser, ensuring healthier smiles for everyone!

Appeal to Their Sense of Vanity

If it’s a little optimistic to think that a snazzy new toothbrush will get your teen interested in oral hygiene, how about appealing to their sense of vanity? 

Teens will often spend a lot of time agonizing over their appearance, fixing their hair, or choosing the right clothes. But reminding them of the link between good oral hygiene and sparkling pearly whites can help them see how important it is to keep to a regular brushing and flossing schedule.

After all, US society puts a lot of value on a winning smile. Twenty-nine percent of Americans stated that a person’s teeth are the first thing they notice when meeting someone new. And many agreed that people with good teeth seem happier, friendlier, and more successful. 

Remember, you will need to be very careful when discussing your teen’s appearance, especially if they’re sensitive about it. But remind them that the great thing about their teeth is that caring for them can make a big difference to how they look. And that, thanks to dental care advances such as Invisalign and implants, it’s easier than ever to improve their teeth if they’re not happy with them. 

Talk About the Long-Term Benefits

A lot of the time we focus on the negatives of not maintaining good oral hygiene practices such as pain, cavities, stained teeth, and the need for invasive dental treatments. But rather than scaring your teen into regular brushing and flossing, talking about the benefits of good dental care can often be more effective. 

This is especially true if your teen needs orthodontic care due to an overbite, crooked teeth, or other issues. Showing them before and after photos, explaining more about available options, and looking at places to get Invisalign together can help them feel more involved and positive about the experience. 

Helping Your Teen Achieve a Healthy Smile

Your teen might be growing up fast, but they’ll still need some encouragement from you when it comes to maintaining good oral hygiene and choosing the right dental care options. 

But with these tips to guide you, it should now be a lot easier to help them achieve a healthy smile!

Want more insights and advice on raising healthy, happy children? Be sure to check out my other blog posts for all the latest news and ideas!

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