How often does your teen brush their teeth? If the answer is “rarely,” know that you certainly are not alone. A recent survey showed that 34 percent of teens are skipping at least one brushing session on a regular basis. Even more shocking, 2 percent aren’t brushing their teeth at all.
Teens aged 12–17 are in a crucial bracket for setting good oral hygiene habits. Not only will the good habits they set today last them for years to come, but they can also help avoid needing significant dental work in the future. Failing to brush twice a day can quickly lead to tooth discoloration, enamel erosion, cavities, decay, tooth loss, and periodontal disease.
While it’s certainly true that parenting a teenager means picking your battles, good oral hygiene doesn’t have to become a war. In the sections below, we’ll give you some tips to help encourage your teenager to brush regularly – and to even have fun doing it!
1. Don’t hide the consequences: talk about them openly
Teenagers are becoming more aware of the world around them, especially as it relates to their peer group. It might be helpful to discuss the consequences of not brushing in a way that will immediately resonate with how they relate to their world. No one wants to be caught with bad breath or food stuck in their teeth!
Talk to them about how regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash can keep their teeth white and their breath fresh. Dental professionals also strongly recommend using visuals to help teens understand the dangers of poor oral health.
A reminder: though it may be tempting to use a dental visit as a threat, this can actually cause your teen to dig their heels in even more. Additionally, it could create a subconscious fear of the dentist, which may stop them from seeking out dental work in adulthood.
2. Have them choose their toothbrush and toothpaste
There are a lot of decisions that teenagers can’t make quite yet – and as any parent knows, that’s a huge source of friction and frustration. Making decisions is empowering, even when making decisions for oral health.
Get them started in making positive decisions for their health by letting them choose their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Not only does it give the feeling that they are in control, but it can also give them a sense of ownership over their own health and their bodies. And you may find that your teenager is much more inclined to brush their teeth once they have the exact flavor (and maybe even the brand) of oral hygiene products that they like!
3. Use oral hygiene apps to your advantage
Oral hygiene apps are perfect for teens – especially if they are on their phone throughout the day. Apps can turn regular brushing and flossing into an interactive, game-like experience, turning daily oral hygiene into a fun activity. And good news for parents who are footing the bill: there are plenty of great free apps available! Here are a few of our favorites:
- Brushout: The Brushout app has a calendar to keep track of brushing progress on a day-to-day basis and gives out achievement badges for brushing consistently. If your teen tends to be forgetful when it comes to brushing, flossing, and rinsing, have them sign up for reminder alerts!
- Brush DJ: If your teenager loves listening to music, Brush DJ is the perfect app! They’ll get to choose their own soundtrack while they brush for two minutes; once the two minutes is up, the song ends and they can stop brushing.
Need Help Getting Your Teen to Brush? Call Hinsdale Dental!
Your teen should be brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash twice each day to keep their mouth as healthy as possible. It’s no surprise that they should also be visiting their dentist on a regular basis as well. Give Hinsdale Dental a call to schedule their next appointment! We’ll be happy to help encourage better oral hygiene habits, both in and out of the dentist’s chair.Return to Blog