As your child enters adolescence, their dietary habits can greatly impact their dental health. With sugary drinks, unhealthy snacks, and processed food items, the chances of dental damage can increase drastically. Add North Carolina’s mouth-watering desserts from Wake Forest, and you get the greatest food bomb invading as an unwanted cavity!
Neglecting dental hygiene can result in unpleasant issues such as yellow teeth, inflamed gums, and bad breath. But fret not, for preventing dental problems during the teenage years is not as difficult as it may seem. Encouraging a healthy dental hygiene routine can make all the difference for teens and parents alike. To help you get started, here are seven essential tips to keep in mind for optimal dental care for teens.
Keep an Eye Out for Misalignment
A perfect smile is a weapon to conquer self-esteem and confidence; however, with the prevalence of crooked, misaligned, gapped, and uneven teeth in younger groups, teenagers often feel demotivated by the appearance of their smile. To help overcome this issue, orthodontic treatments are widely available, even in small towns like Wake Forest, NC. According to the American Association of Orthodontics, around 4.5 million people in the US are rocking braces on their teeth, most of which are kids and teens. Therefore, your dentist may recommend relevant procedures, such as braces for teens in Wake Forest, NC, for a misaligned teeth structure.
From improving your ability to speak, chew, and breathe properly to helping you get a better night’s sleep, properly aligned teeth can significantly impact your teen’s overall health and well-being.
Establishing a consistent and effective teeth-brushing routine is important. By incorporating these simple tips into their dental practice, your teen can keep tooth decay at bay and enjoy healthy, happy teeth and gums:
- Brush twice daily, one of those times being just before bed. This helps remove any leftover food particles and bacteria that can cause decay while they sleep.
- Always brush for two minutes. Set a timer or use an app because two minutes is the magic number for optimal brushing.
- Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride-containing toothpaste. Fluoride is a powerful ally in the fight against tooth decay, so ensure your teen’s toothpaste has it.
- Clean teeth in a circular motion and gums in a side-to-side (vibrating) motion. This helps remove plaque from all angles and ensures thorough cleaning.
- Hold the toothbrush at a 45° angle when cleaning the gum line. This helps get right up to the edge of the gums and prevents gum disease.
- Clean both the front and back of teeth, the chewing surfaces, and around behind the back molars. No tooth left behind!
- Avoid brushing within 15 minutes of eating or drinking, as it can damage the enamel. Give your teen’s teeth some time to recover before getting scrubbed up again.
Use a Reliable Mouthwash
Get ready to swish and swirl your way to a healthy mouth! Using mouthwash may not be necessary daily, but incorporating it into your oral care routine can work wonders for your teen’s pearly whites.
To get the most out of mouthwash, choose a type that’s packed with germ-fighting power. Look for labels that boast ‘antibacterial’ or ‘anti-plaque’ properties to ensure those pesky bacteria don’t stand a chance. Read the instructions on the back carefully, and while it may be tempting to swallow a mouthful of minty freshness, it’s important to always spit it out.
One pro tip: hold off using mouthwash right after brushing your teeth. Wait a little bit to let that fluoride do its job, and then get to swishing for maximum impact.
Use Mouthguards During High-Risk Sports
Your teen’s love for high-energy sports like soccer, basketball, and football can be exhilarating, but they also pose a risk to their dental health. As your teen progresses through junior high and high school, the sports will become more intense, and the chances of dental trauma and broken teeth increase. But don’t let that put a damper on their passion.
Instead, encourage them to wear a mouth guard during risky sports to protect their pearly whites from expensive damage, infections, or abscesses.
Make Flossing a Habit
While it’s not necessary for your teen to floss as often as they brush their teeth, incorporating regular flossing into their dental routine can greatly impact their oral health. Flossing helps remove stubborn food particles and bacteria that brushing alone can’t reach, preventing bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay. By taking a few extra minutes daily to floss, your teen can maintain a healthy, happy smile for years.
Here’s a quick guide on how to floss like a pro:
- Cut a piece of floss around 30-40cm in length.
- Gently slide the floss between two teeth down to the gum line.
- Use a gentle back-and-forth motion, forming a “C” shape around each tooth to remove debris or plaque.
- Be sure to use a fresh section of floss for each tooth gap so you’re not just moving bacteria around from one spot to another.
Watch Out for Wisdom Tooth
As your teen enters their teenage years, they may experience the discomfort of wisdom teeth growing in behind their molars. But did you know that wisdom teeth can wreak havoc on oral health if left untreated? These teeth can grow unevenly, damaging surrounding gums and even causing painful infections.
That’s why it’s important to have a dental x-ray done and to consult with your dentist about scheduling an appointment with an oral surgeon. By removing wisdom teeth before they become a problem, you can help your teen avoid serious dental issues down the road.
Maintain Adequate Calcium Intake
Calcium can help strengthen the enamel of your teeth, keeping them strong and healthy.
But wait, before you have your teen start chugging gallons of milk or munching on cheese, remember that everyone’s body is different and has unique needs. So it’s important to talk to your doctor or health professional to determine how much calcium your teen needs daily to maintain oral health.
Note: Beware of hidden sugars lurking in calcium-rich foods. While many dairy products like yogurt are great sources of calcium, they may also be loaded with sugar, which can be just as harmful as it is helpful.
Teens taking care of their dental health is not just about having a beautiful smile but also about avoiding serious oral health problems like cavities and gum disease. By following the tips above and visiting your dentist regularly, you can establish good dental habits in your teen that will serve them well for years to come.
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