The teenage years bring with them greater independence and with that independence comes more choices to be made. Friends begin to exert a greater influence over diet and lifestyle habits than parents at this age.
Because teens still need to follow good oral health habits, follow these tips to help preserve healthy smiles during this transformative time.
Encourage Healthy Eating
Teens are always on the go, and may rely on energy drinks, fast food, and nutrition bars to get through the day. Most of these are loaded with sugar, carbs and acids, which can wreak havoc on their dental health.
● Keep cheese sticks, fruit, and raw veggies on hand for healthy snacks
● Stock the fridge with water, coconut water, and no-sugar teas
● Trade traditional gum and candy for those made with tooth-friendly xylitol or other sugar-free sweeteners
You can’t always make your teen follow a perfect diet, but having healthy choices at the ready can help make it easy.
Encourage Mouthguard Use
If your teenager plays football, soccer, lacrosse or another contact sport, insist that they wear a mouthguard to protect their teeth. Mouthguards can be custom fitted by a dentist or
store-bought. Some fit over orthodontic braces.
A mouth protector should be rinsed after each use, disinfected regularly, and stored in a ventilated container.
Use Caution with Braces
If your teen has braces, they must exercise great oral care. Make sure to keep new toothbrushes or brush heads, plus floss, and a floss threader, handy.
Also, be mindful of what they eat: no sticky or crunchy foods and no chewing gum. For healthy prepared snacks any time, cut fruit into bite-sized pieces, add a little lemon juice or pectin to keep them longer, and store portions in sandwich bags.
Avoid Oral Piercings
The popularity of tongue and lip piercings comes and goes, but your teen should know that the metal in piercings can cause tooth damage and mouth infections. Tongue piercings, in particular, can easily chip teeth.
Tooth fractures may need filings, or, if they are deeper, require a tooth extraction or root canal.
Make Good Oral Health Easy
Reward regular brushing and proper flossing, and keep extra kits in your kid’s gym bag, the car, and in their school locker for on-the-go care. Encourage good teeth-cleaning habits after meals, or suggest swishing and rinsing until there is an opportunity to brush.
Like adults, teens need to visit their Flower Mound pediatric dentist at least twice a year. Adolescents and teens tend to be self-conscious; having an attractive smile and sweet breath are good motivators for proper oral hygiene.