Teens & Dental Care Problems

Strategies for Helping Teens With Serious Dental Care Problems
Posted on 05/01/2019

Parents often try to teach their children optimal dental care habits early in life. No matter how many hours parents spend teaching kids the proper way to brush their teeth, floss, and swish with mouthwash, some teenagers seem to forget all they've learned about dental care over the years. Consider these strategies if your teens have neglected their dental care.

Set Dental Care Rules for Teens

Although you may have hoped to leave dental care rules behind when your kids left elementary school, older kids sometimes need rules and structure around their dental care routine, too. If your teenagers haven’t managed their dental care habits well, discuss rules you expect them to follow. Also, inform them of consequences for not following the rules.

Be as consistent as possible with dental care rules. Depending on the situation, you may explain your reasoning for the rules to older kids and teenagers. Reasoning can help teenagers understand why they need to be conscientious about caring for their teeth and gums. If you don't want to rehash explanations, though, you can simply set the rules and ask teens to comply.

Offer teens age-appropriate rewards for maintaining positive dental care habits and following the rules. You may offer more screen time or a later curfew. Reward the actions, not the outcome. For example, some teenagers may try very hard to take care of their teeth, yet they may still get a cavity. If your teenagers try their best to follow the rules, allow them to reap the rewards.

Ensure Teens Get the Same Message From Both Parents

Talk to your spouse or co-parent about the message you both send your teens about dental care. If you are divorced and share custody, establish that your teenagers get the same message about dental care in both homes. If an ex has a new partner, they should also be on board with supporting your teens' healthy dental habits, too.

Suggest an Independent Research Project

Some teenagers may think that avoiding daily dental care habits is no big deal. After all, they often won't immediately face the consequences for not flossing. If they don't brush their teeth for a couple of nights in a row, they may feel that nothing bad has happened. To help teens who are missing the point of daily dental care habits, suggest a research project.

Have every member of the family research a different aspect of dental care. Be sure that the topic you give your teen addresses a problem they struggle with. For example, if your teenager is convinced that there's no point to brushing their teeth, ask them to research the data on what happens to people who don't brush their teeth over a long period of time.

Encourage research over a two-week period, then have a family meeting to discuss what everyone discovered. This can encourage in-depth discussions in a way where teens don't feel judged, and they're less likely to worry that you're lecturing them. Hear your teens out with their findings, but don't be afraid to speak up if they missed the point of the project.

Limit Sugary Drinks and Snacks for Teens

As teenagers gain independence, they may not want parental input about their diet, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't hear it. Engage your teenagers in ongoing discussions about how their dietary choices affect their dental health and their overall health. Set a positive example when possible. Also, encourage teens to ask their doctor and dentist questions about their diet.

Talk to teenagers about how healthy food choices can help their teeth and gums. Also, discuss why sugary hard candy may affect how healthy their smile appears. Avoid buying sugary drinks and snacks to keep around the house. Also, let your teens know why these items should be only rare treats, not a normal part of their daily diet.

Ask Teens to Set an Example for Younger Kids

Teenagers are often role models for their younger siblings. They may not want to be role models, but this often just happens naturally in most family dynamics. Discuss the reality of this situation with your teens, then ask them to be positive role models. You may even ask them to pair up with younger siblings for their dental care routine each night.

Teenagers may be motivated by the watchful eyes of younger siblings who want to see how their older siblings brush their teeth and floss. Supervise them if necessary. Encourage teens and younger kids to keep improving their habits together.

Celebrate the Victories

Positive reinforcement is a crucial part of helping your teenagers establish good dental habits that they will follow into adulthood. Heap praise on teenagers for doing the right things for their teeth and gums. No victory is too small to celebrate. While you don't want to overdo it, err on the side of being too supportive. Let teens know that you see the efforts they make.

Healthy dental care habits should be developed and followed throughout a lifetime. Be consistent and insistent when helping your teenagers establish a good dental care routine. This should include regular dental visits. Contact Dentistry for Children & Adolescents to make an appointment for your teenager's next dental checkup and cleaning.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

  • Edina Office - 7373 France Ave. S., Suite 402, Edina, MN 55435 Phone: 952-831-4400
  • Burnsville Office - 14050 Nicollet Ave., Suite 100, Burnsville, MN 55337 Phone: 952-435-4102
  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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