Teaching Your Teen Good Dental Care

As a parent, you know how important it is to monitor your toddler and elementary school children's dental health. The challenge comes in the teen years. Dental hygiene is more important than ever as your kids approach adulthood, but it's often easy to overlook your child's habits. In part, this is because they are old enough to take care of their own teeth. The following strategies can help your teen develop good habits for life.

Issue Reminders

The days of the star chart and reward system in the bathroom are long gone, but that doesn't mean your busy teen doesn't still need a few reminders to keep their dental habits up to date. The trick is to instill habits without nagging.

Making reminder announcements to the household at large is one way to do this – "Everyone, lets brush, floss, and get our shoes on. It's almost time for class."

The exception is if you suspect your teen has been skimping in the dental hygiene department. You may need to make more pointed reminder. Be firm and let your child know that brushing and flossing twice daily isn't optional. Point out the negatives of bad dental care, including tooth decay, yellow teeth, and bad breath. Teens usually care about their appearance enough that these completely factual scare tactics can be effective.

Schedule Appointments

Make sure that you stay on top of your teen's twice yearly visits to the dentist. It can be tempting to leave it up to your teen to schedule or ask for visits when they think they need them, but this is a mistake. Teens are more likely to forget, or they may skip the task because they feel unsure of themselves.

When possible, you will want to attend the appointments with your child, as well. This way the dentist can debrief you on any concerns so you, your teen, and the dentist can work together to formulate a treatment plan.

Open Up Discussions

As your teen gets older and begins showing more responsibility, it's vital that you begin including them in their daily healthcare concerns. Before a dentist appointment, ask your teen if there is anything they are concerned about or would like to discuss with their dentist.

Sometimes, teens are hesitant to talk to the dentist once they are in the office. If you know some of their concerns, you can help them bring it up. The goal here isn't just answers, so don't answer your teen's question. The goal is to begin teaching your teen how to communicate with their healthcare professionals so they grow into better equipped adults.

Teens are on the cusp of adulthood, and once they are gone they will be fully responsible for their own dental hygiene. Teaching them good habits now and giving them the tools to seek out the best and most effectual dental care as adults will help them take better care of their pearly whites. For more tips, talk to a family dental clinic professional.