4 Ways to Make Oral Health a Priority with Your Busy Teen

Wednesday July 31, 2013 by
Melissa Brown, DDS

Although your teen’s mouth may get fresh with you from time to time, it may not be fresh from an oral hygiene perspective. Between school, part-time jobs, extracurriculars, and friendships, teens are often on the go. And with their busy lifestyles, occasionally oral hygiene is sacrificed.

This is particularly common when teens are snacking on junk foods, sugary sweets, and sodas. While we can’t make your teen less mouthy, we do have a few simple suggestions to make your teen’s mouth fresher from an oral hygiene perspective.

Keep Healthy Snacks Readily Available

Many teens on the run will grab a candy bar and a soda from a convenience store. Outwit them! Keep items like fruit on hand; when your teen’s on the run, he or she can easily grab a banana to eat on the go. Or, cut up vegetables into individual serving sizes to eat with hummus. And rather than filling the refrigerator with sugary sodas, stock it with bottled water. If healthy options are made readily available—and poorer options are more difficult to come by—both you and your teen will win.

Emphasize the Benefits of Good Oral Hygiene

Leaving teeth neglected causes tooth decay, which can eventually lead to cavities and tooth removal. Although you want to mention this gruesome fact to your teen, most teens feel invincible and don’t sweat long-term consequences. So, we encourage you to emphasize the more superficial aspects of great oral hygiene—better breath and whiter teeth. Letting them know that halitosis and yellow teeth can negatively impact their social life might be your best sales tactic.

Stock Your Cabinets with the Right Stuff

Always keep extra toothbrushes, flavored floss, and appealing-tasting toothpaste on hand. If the supplies are enjoyable and readily available, your teen is more likely to use them.

Model Good Oral Health

As with any healthy habit you want your teen to adopt, setting a good example is important. If your child notices your own good hygiene (always brushing before bedtime, for example, or flossing after dinner), he may similarly adopt his own healthy, oral hygiene regimen.

Odds are, you won’t be able to slow down your on-the-go teen’s schedule anytime soon. Find simple and creative ways to re-enforce healthy snacking and oral hygiene to ensure that your teen has a healthy and confident smile!