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 are nagging, but 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.
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. Most 20-ounce bottles of soda are just 18 teaspoons of sugar mixed with an extremely acidic liquid. The combination can be devastating for teeth as well as your teen’s overall health.
- Encourage brushing before bedtime. The hours spent sleeping can be especially harmful as the mouth dries out and bacteria flourishes.
- Explain the dangers of sharing toothbrushes. Bacteria that cause gum disease and cavities can easily transfer from one person to another.
- Slip dental floss or a toothpick in with their lunch or backpack.