Today’s teens lead very busy lives and have a lot on their plates. It can be stressful balancing home life, increasing academic demands, and social life, to name a few. With all the activities and the transition of becoming an adult, good oral hygiene is essential during adolescence.

According to Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, recent data have shown that 75% of teens have gum bleeding and about 13% have at least one untreated cavity, which is most likely related to poor oral care.

Why is it Important for Teens to Take Care of Their Oral Hygiene?

The ability to speak clearly, chew, taste, and self-esteem are directly tied to the condition of the mouth. A healthy mouth is also related to overall well-being. Problems that start in the mouth can affect the rest of the body, for example, bleeding gums can increase the risk of heart disease. Make your oral hygiene a priority! Below are steps to help teens maintain good oral hygiene and tips to help parents and caregivers support their teen’s oral hygiene.

Daily Oral Hygiene for Teens

Taking care of your oral health is just as important as caring for your general health. Brushing and flossing are the most important things that you can do to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Daily oral hygiene reduces plaque and tarter buildup which can cause cavities and gum disease, this is when your gums become red, swollen, and sore. Follow these oral hygiene practices to maintain a healthy smile:

  • Brush your teeth twice (2) a day for at least two (2) minutes with a fluoride toothpaste. Hold your brush at a 45-degree angle against your gumline. Gently brush in short (about one tooth-wide) strokes. Brush all outside and inside surfaces of your teeth, and the chewing surfaces.
  • Floss at least once a day. Flossing removes plaque and particles of food between your teeth and near the gumline. Click here to watch a short video on how to floss.
  • Visit the dentist every six (6) months. Regular dental exams help identify and treat dental problems before they become bigger and painful. This is also an opportunity to get answers to your dental concerns and guidance from the dental team.

Healthy Eating for Teens

Much like the rest of your body, your teeth also need nutritious foods to stay in good health. Making healthier food choices and keeping unhealthy foods to minimum, can help promote good oral health. Try the following suggestions:

  • Include nutrient-dense foods in your meals or snacks. Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, leafy greens, and almonds are a good source of calcium and other nutrients.
  • Limit unhealthy foods. Cookies, chips, doughnuts, and other treats are hard to pass up. Enjoy these foods as a treat or eat occasionally. The cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and carbohydrates.
  • Choose healthier beverages. Continuous sipping of sugary drinks such as juice or soda can increase the risk of cavities. Replace sugary beverages with water or milk.

Extra Tips to Help Teens Protect Their Oral Hygiene and Reduce Oral Injuries

A teen’s life can include trying out different interests, sports, and self-expression. Below is oral care guidance that can help promote better oral hygiene and reduce oral injuries among teens:

  • Use a mouthguard. A mouthguard can protect your teeth, gums, cheeks, and jaw by absorbing high impact energy that may occur when playing any contact sport.
  • Avoid tobacco use. Overall, smoking, vaping, and chewing tobacco are bad for your health. It also affects your mouth in many ways. It causes bad breath, teeth staining, mouth sores, and gum disease. Need help with quitting? Click here for free quit smoking & vaping services in Orange County.
  • Oral piercing care. Oral piercing can impact your oral health. It is important to clean piercings after meals to prevent bacterial overgrowth, infections, and bad breath. Try to avoid clicking the jewelry against your teeth. Be gentle and aware of the jewelry’s movement when talking and chewing. Click here to learn more about oral piercings and care.

Parents and Caregivers, Support Your Teen with Their Oral Hygiene

Parents and caregivers can play a major role in helping teens with their oral health. Following tips below to help your teen maintain good oral hygiene:

  • Be a good role model. Teens are more likely to engage in positive dental care habits if you are taking care of your own oral hygiene.
  • Stock up on dental care items. Have extra toothpaste, toothbrushes, brush heads, and dental floss available.
  • Help your teen eat healthy. Make sure your teen has access to healthy meals, snacks, and beverages. Click here for a variety of healthy and easy to prepare recipes from FoodHero.org.
  • Stick to routine dental checkups. Try to schedule dental visits around your teen’s schedule. Dental checkups are usually twice (2) a year.

Related Resources

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