Teenagers have busy lives, so it can seem almost impossible to monitor how often, or even if, they are brushing their teeth. Teens also tend to pick up habits that may cause serious damage to their teeth and gums, such as drinking sports drinks and eating unhealthy snacks. These habits can cause tooth decay, which is one of the most common conditions of children in the United States.
It is important to talk with your teenager about the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene. Here are a few tips to help encourage good oral hygiene in your teenager.
Limit Sports Drinks and Soda
Teenagers tend to drink a great deal of soda or sports drinks, both at home and at school. Soda and sports drinks are loaded with sugar, which can cause cavities, and the acidic flavor additives found in both sweetened and unsweetened soda can cause erosion and damage to tooth enamel.
If your teenager insists on drinking these beverages, encourage him or her to rinse with water after drinking them, which helps to remove some of the sugars and may help reduce the risk of tooth decay.
Encourage Healthy Snacking
Teens are notorious for grabbing quick meals and snacks. They frequently snack on fast food in between school and activities. But these types of eating habits can cause permanent damage to their teeth and gums as well as their overall health.
Try to have healthy snacks, such as fruit, available and encourage them to floss and brush after meals and snacks. Encourage teens to chew sugarless gum with xylitol after snacks or meals, which can help clean their mouth. Drinking water throughout the day will also help keep the mouth free of food debris and excess bacteria.
Protect Teeth and Gums
Playing contact sports poses a serious risk for oral injuries. Teens who play sports should wear a mouth guard to help protect teeth. A mouth guard can be custom-fitted by your dentist or bought at a department store. Both will provide protection, but a custom-fitted mouth guard is designed specifically for your child, so it will have a more secure fit. Encourage your teen to keep the mouth guard clean by rinsing it after each use and storing it in a well-ventilated container.
Schedule Regular Dental Appointments
Regular dental care is essential for good oral health. Not only should your teens floss and brush every day, they should visit their dentist at least twice a year. There are things that teenagers do that can cause excessive damage and injury to teeth, mouth and gums, such as smoking or getting an oral piercing. Encourage your teenager to talk with their dentist about the risks associated with these behaviors.
Contact Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry to learn more information about how your teenager can maintain proper oral health. We are accepting new patients, so this is the perfect time schedule your teens' dental exam.