September is here already, and for most teenagers that means back to school. If you’re the parent of a teen, you know better than most that this can be a challenging and exciting time in the life of a child. As your kids go through their teenage years and change from children to young adults, they begin to form their own strong opinions about life. Most of the time, that’s a positive thing. But when it comes to maintaining good oral health, your teenager may still need some direction about what habits to engage in and which ones to avoid. Here are a few tips to keep your teen on the road to healthy gums and teeth.
- No matter how popular it may be, don’t pierce! Some teens may be tempted to follow the trend set by other kids and some celebrities, and consider having their tongues or cheeks pierced. This is never a good idea. Warn your teen that oral piercings can result in infections, chipped teeth, and can negatively impact the way they talk and chew food.
- Wear a mouth guard when playing sports. This is especially important if your teen engages in contact sports like football or basketball. But even if your kid is involved in less dangerous sports, or simply enjoys being active in any kind of physical exercise, wearing a mouth guard will protect your teen’s teeth from becoming cracked, chipped or broken. There are a variety of guards available – from generic types sold in most sporting goods stores to custom-made versions created by your dentist.
- Maintain a healthy diet. A little junk food is okay once in a while, but you should encourage your teen to eat a healthy diet full of vegetables, fruit, dairy and lean protein. This will not only benefit their oral health, but their overall health as well. If you make eating a healthy diet a routine at home, they’ll be more likely to do the same outside of the house.
- Regardless of how busy they may be, stay on track with their daily oral hygiene routine. Between school, working part-time jobs, sports and other school-related activities – not to mention spending time with friends — a teenager’s life can be hectic to say the least. Remind your teen how important it is to be diligent with a daily oral hygiene routine at home.
- Visit the dentist at least twice a year for oral exams and professional cleanings. Don’t leave it up to your teenager to schedule the appointments. Contact your dentist to make an appointment that fits in with your teen’s busy schedule.
The Centers for Disease Control tells us that cavities are the most common health issue faced by teenagers. But you can minimize those problems for your teen by helping to keep them on track with habits that are good for their oral health.