School is starting back up this week, and that means parents all across the Kansas…
As every parent knows, getting kids to take good care of their teeth and watch what they eat can be a bit of a battle. We do it anyway, though, because we want the best for our kids, and that includes a healthy, confident smile all their lives.
Teenagers, especially, often have a tendency for poor oral hygiene and a potentially high risk for cavities and periodontal disease. Plus, their nutritional habits are frequently less than great, and if they play sports, there’s a risk of traumatic oral injuries. (This is why mouthguards are important, parents!) Teenagers also face unique challenges to their oral health, including potential exposure to tobacco, nicotine, alcohol, and other risk factors like oral piercings.
Perhaps most importantly, teenagers are faced with a greater aesthetic awareness and a need to be independent and make their own decisions. This means that the best parents can do is to teach and reinforce positive oral hygiene habits, so that teens are not only taking good care of their own teeth and gums, but setting a good example for any younger kids in the house.
As your Overland Park dentist, we know how tough it can be, so we’ve gathered three suggestions that will help you get the message across to your kids – teenage and otherwise.
1. Give them the facts. Even a teen who has had a clean bill of dental health up to now can still be susceptible to cavities and gum disease, especially if they abandon the healthy habits that they’ve (hopefully) developed prior to their teenage years. Make sure they know that they need to brush twice a day and floss at least once every day—even if they have braces or other orthodontia—and remind them of the importance of regular visits with your family dentist in Overland Park.
2. Make sure they’re getting the same message from both parents. Whether both parents are in the house or not, it’s important that teens get consistent messaging from the adults in their lives. Positive, consistent reinforcement is important. That goes for what you say, but it also goes double for what you do, so set a good example by brushing, flossing, and seeing your Overland Park dentist regularly yourself.
3. Don’t bring home the sugar. We all know that it’s important—and challenging—to limit the amount of sugary food and drinks that your kids (and you) imbibe. Sugar is a leading cause of tooth decay, and many sugary beverages can further erode the enamel of your child’s teeth. You can’t control everything they eat and drink, but you can help reduce their risk and set a good example at the same time by not bringing a lot of sugary snacks and beverages into the house.
Bonus! Ask your teens to help set an example for their siblings. Whether they like it or not, teenagers are often role models for their younger siblings. While some teens may struggle to make healthy decisions for their own sake, reminding them that their younger siblings emulate them may help them to remember to brush, floss, and make other healthy choices to set a good example for their brother or sister.
Every member of your family has dental care needs that change throughout their lives, so all of you should brush, floss, and make regular visits to your Overland Park dentist! Call Watts Family Dental at (913) 338-3384 to schedule an appointment or to chat with a member of our friendly staff anytime!