When it comes to parenting teens, parents know that it’s a pick-your-battle proposition. And, yes, we’ll be the first to say that your teen’s oral health is vital to overall health and wellness, but we also know that you have other top priority issues to address as well. That’s why in this post, we want to give you a couple of tips for helping manage your teen’s oral habits in a way that we hope will make forming lifelong dental patterns more natural for your teen and less of a battle for you. At the end of the day, this isn’t the most important parenting issue you’re facing, though, so cut yourself and your kid some slack (easier said than done, we know).
Between school, extracurriculars, emotions, and still-developing time-management skills, most teens are pretty busy. And, often, the type of snacks that are most accessible are carbs and sugar, both of which are bad news for teeth. Keeping the drink-and-snack-stache stocked with string cheese or cheese cubes, carrot sticks, fruit, nuts, coconut water, LaCroix, and other choices of that sort gives your kids quick energy options while protecting their teeth.
The fact of the matter is that you’re not on site at school to remind your teen to brush their teeth after lunch or to give them reminders when they’re traveling for that sports event. But little things can sometimes help. Providing a travel toothbrush and toothpaste (or two) for their locker and/or backpack can sometimes give them the encouragement they need. You can also try to incentivize them with rewards for keeping up with their brushing.
About playing sports
We’ll keep this short and sweet: if your teen plays any contact sport, make sure they have a mouth guard. Your dentist can custom fit a mouthguard for your teen, or you can buy a generic one from a store.
Last, but not least, keeping up with your teen’s twice a year dental cleaning checkups provides a safety net for oral health. You can also request for sealants to be applied to your teen’s teeth at the cleaning as an additional layer of protection.
There are no one-size-fits-all answers because each child is different. Next time you come to the office, feel free to talk with us about your questions or ask for other ideas.