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Oral Hygiene and Your Teenager

If you're a parent, here's something you probably already know. Teenagers can be tough on their teeth. They may be so busy with school, jobs, sports and social activities that they don't find time to brush. They're also known for constant snacking and soda consumption, and tend to eat a lot of junk food. Combine these two facts, and you've got a situation ripe for tooth decay. Not surprisingly, many teenagers develop a lot of cavities.

Here are a few tips to help your child get through the teen years cavity-free:

  • Encourage your teen to develop great habits for regular dental check ups now. Since First Choice Dental has 9 Madison-area locations close to home, work and school, we're easy to get to, even for busy teenagers.
  • Encourage your teenager to take good care of his or her teeth. This means brushing at least twice a day and flossing daily. Teenagers care a lot about how they look. Help your teen understand that bad oral hygiene can lead to stains, bad breath, missing teeth and many other dental problems. Your dentist can help reinforce these messages.
  • Remind teens that tobacco use not only wrecks their medical health. It wreaks havoc on your smile. Tobacco use puts teens at risk for bad breath, teeth staining and tooth decay on the minor end of the spectrum, and gum disease and even oral cancer on the more serious end of the spectrum.
  • Provide extra encouragement or help for teens with braces. Teens in the midst of orthodontic treatment are especially at risk for decay and stains associated with poor dental hygiene from haphazard brushing and flossing. Products like flossers and Sonicare Toothbrushes can be a big help. Your dentist can make recommendations.
  • Set a good example. If you take good care of your teeth, your teenager will see that good oral hygiene is important to you. Your talks and warnings will not seem hypocritical and will carry greater weight if you're following your own advice, with dental visits every six months and great at-home hygiene habits.
  • Have plenty of oral health-care supplies on hand. Keep soft toothbrushes, colored or flavored floss (or plastic flossers) and good-tasting toothpaste out in the bathroom. You can even keep them in the kitchen for quick use when teens are in a hurry.
  • Make great nutrition easy by having good food choices readily available. Don't buy junk food. Instead, keep lots of fruits and vegetables in the house for snacking. Think crunchy and non-sticky. Think whole, unprocessed foods, not processed foods with lots of sugar and starch. Great nutritional habits for great smiles start when they're young!