Raising kids is hard. But as any parent of teens will tell you, raising teenagers is especially difficult! It’s already hard enough to convince them to do their chores and homework, much less care about their oral health. According to the CDC, about 1 of every 5 children under the age of 19 have untreated dental cavities. It’s also estimated that about 40% of teens do not brush their teeth the recommended twice per day.
Going to the dentist as a child is important, and for teenagers, it’s an especially important time for their teeth. The care and maintenance habits they create now will help them as adults.
So, how do you convince your teenager to care about their teeth and go to the dentist? Here are some of our suggestions…
- First, YOU have to care about YOUR teeth.
Parents love to say “Do as I say, not as I do.” Truth be told, children learn the habits of the people that raise them, so if you visit the dentist often and take care of your teeth at home, then that lesson is ingrained in your children at an early age.
- Start taking them to the dentist at a young age.
As soon as a child gets their first tooth, pediatric dentists recommend that you take your child to their first dental appointment. If you keep that routine of visiting your family dentist as they grow up, then the child will grow accustomed to it. Even better if you go to the same dentist who provides quality care for you and your family.
- Help make oral hygiene fun or rewarding for them.
Even if they say they aren’t kids anymore, teens still like to have fun, and like to be rewarded for doing something they’re supposed to do. At an early age, teach your kids that teeth cleaning is fun. As they grow up, they’ll find other things interesting. Help them decorate their bathroom that keeps their interest, like including a Bluetooth speaker so they can play music or putting up posters of their favorite bands.
- Explain to them in detail the consequences of bad oral hygiene.
While appearances aren’t everything, teenagers put a lot of value in their look and in how others perceive them. You can let them know that their teeth and smile is a big part of that. However, take them through the health issues of bad oral hygiene as well. Show them pictures of mouths afflicted by gum disease, plaque buildup, etc. so they can see what may happen if they do not see their dentist. Having periodontal issues can have a negative effect on their quality of life.
- Work with the school or PTA to include dental care programs.
If teens see that other teens care about something, then they will likely follow suit. And the best place to gather a big group is at their schools, or even at extracurriculars. Talk to your peers and see what creative ideas you can come up with to get your children to care more about their oral hygiene and what’s working for them.
Dr. Stephen Coates is a trusted family dentist with a dental staff who has been servicing families in and around the Long Beach area. Book your appointment with us today online, or by calling us at 562-434-6414.