When your teen is already busy with friends, schoolwork and catching up on sleep, proper oral hygiene can go on the back burner. When running late for school, sometimes there just isn't time for a full two minutes of toothbrushing. But as a parent, it's up to you to make sure that your teen practices good dental care. By making oral hygiene part of a simple daily routine, you can help your teen sneak in regular brushing and flossing along with all the other plans in his or her schedule.
Use Teen-Based Products
One of the reasons teens might be slacking in the dental care department is the fact that most oral hygiene products aren't exactly tailored to adolescent tastes. Strong flavors and boring designs could make teens less than enthused when it comes to daily care. That's where youth-geared products can really come in handy. By appealing to teens' tastes and style, it's easier to coax them into a daily care routine. Check out the Colgate®Fresh Confidence product line, designed with adolescents in mind.
Try Apps and Timers
One of the biggest issues for teens and proper oral hygiene is the fact that when they do brush, it might not be for a long enough period of time. Teens Health by the Nemours Foundation recommends that adolescents brush for two or three minutes; sometimes teens are lucky if they clock a meager 30 seconds. Therefore, using smartphone timer apps or even an egg timer can help teens become more aware of how long they should be brushing. Or, if your teen is never without his or her headphones, use a three-minute song as a guideline for brushing.
Limit Soda and Candy
Teens seem to be able to exist on a steady diet of soda, chips and candy, but those kinds of treats can wreak havoc on teeth. A diet high in sugar promotes bacteria and cavities. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that over 15 percent of children and teens between the ages of 6-19 have untreated cavities. By making healthier treats and drinks readily available, teens might be less likely to nosh on sugary foods. Keep bottled water, cut vegetables, whole-grain crackers and other sugar-free treats at the ready for convenient snacking.
Appeal to Confidence
Teens are notoriously concerned with their looks, so appealing to their image can be one way to encourage teens to brush up on their oral hygiene habits. Gently reminding teens that a slack dental care routine could result in yellow stains and bad breath can help remind them that the importance of toothbrushing is more than just staying cavity-free. If your teen is self-conscious about his or her smile, whitening toothpastes and mouthwashes can help improve confidence and contribute to a regular hygiene habit.
While teens might be perpetually time-crunched, skipping regular oral care to catch a few more minutes of sleep in the morning can have serious consequences. Making oral hygiene simple, quick and personalized may inspire your teen to brush regularly — and maybe even get to school on time.
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Coloman E. Kondorossy, DMD, FAGD, DICOI
Stephen K. Kondorossy, DMD, MBS
1445 Hamilton Street
Somerset, NJ 08873