Parents, you’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

Or just as likely, we’ve got questions and you’ve got answers.

Challenge: Best Parent Hacks

How to Get Your Teens into Better Oral Care

Vote up!
Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Email this article


Even though there is a huge focus on whiter teeth in recent years, there are still a lot of teens who don’t seem to care about their oral health, and they aren’t really into brushing and flossing. As a parent, you don’t want to see them end up having serious dental issues, and you don’t want to pay for expensive dental bills that could have been avoided. Simply reminding them to brush their teeth isn’t enough, and it isn’t something that you should have to do at this point in their lives. Here are some other ways that you can get your teens into better oral care habits.

1. Let them Chew Gum

Our own saliva is a natural cavity fighter, and one of the best ways to produce saliva is by chewing gum. Make sure that you keep a supply of sugar-free chewing gum on hand for your teens, and encourage them to chew gum as much as possible (unless they are in classes where chewing gum is forbidden).

2. Make it Interesting

Try adding some music to the routine for younger teens to get them to actually enjoy brushing their teeth. Put on their favorite music so they can enjoy the tunes and brushing won’t seem like so much of a chore. There are even musical toothbrushes available that play hit songs for two minutes, the appropriate amount of time for proper teeth brushing.

3. Teach about Healthy Eating

Most teens don’t always follow healthy diets, and they tend to eat a lot of junk food and drink way too much soda. The foods you eat play a huge role in oral health, and even some of the healthiest foods, such as citrus fruits, aren’t good for the teeth. Teach your teens about healthy eating to promote good dental health.

4. Tell them what Can Happen

There are many good reasons why we should all take care of our teeth. Sit down with your teens and talk to them about the consequences of not brushing, from bad breath and yellow teeth to the more serious health problems that can occur, including gum disease and the eventual need for dentures.

5. Watch for Signs of Eating Disorders

“Many people don’t realize that some eating disorders can lead to some pretty serious dental issues. For instance, if a teen is suffering from bulimia, they are vomiting frequently. The acid from the bile erodes the teeth over time, leading to tooth decay, gum disease, and other dental problems. Talk to them about the many dangers of eating disorders”, suggests Dr. Ella Dekhtyar.

6. Keep them from Smoking

Even though we all know the dangers of smoking cigarettes, an alarming number of teens are still taking up the habit. Talk to your teens about all of the dangers of smoking, including the role it can play in the health of their teeth and gums. Smokers have a greater chance of developing gum disease than non-smokers.

7. Discourage the Habit of Chewing Ice

A lot of people like to chew on ice, but this can be very dangerous. Not only can it cause tooth breakage, it can also be a sign that there is something more serious going on. It can indicate an iron deficiency, something that can be quite common among young girls who have heavy periods.

8. Talk to them about Sex

Let’s face it, teens do have sex, and it isn’t something that we can always control. But, we can talk to them about practicing safe sex. Many teens think that oral sex is safe sex, but it does come with its own dangers. For instance, oral sex can cause the spread of the HPV virus, which in turn can lead to oral cancer.

This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.