Your family may be in the midst of enjoying the summer season, but the fall will be here before you know it. And although the back-to-school season is sure to look a lot different this year, there are some things that never really change.
That includes teen oral care. Whether your teenager will be attending school in-person or taking classes online this semester, it’s still important to prioritize their dental health. Maintaining excellent oral care is pivotal for overall health — and in the midst of an ongoing pandemic, it’s important to take every protective step possible. Even if their smile is covered by a face mask or is only seen through a computer screen, you’ll need to encourage them to protect their teeth from bacteria, decay, and other problems.
With everything else going on in the world, having a cavity filled is probably low on your teenager’s list of priorities. To ensure they stay in good health during the back-to-school season, here are some tips any dentist for teens would recommend.
Whether at home or at school, your teen needs energy to power them through the day. But not all snacks and lunches are created equal. Foods like chips, crackers, granola bars, and cookies tend to stick to the teeth, which can promote bacterial growth and decay. And of course, many foods are loaded with sugar, which can present problems for both oral health and overall wellness.
Make sure to have plenty of fresh fruits and veggies for your teen to enjoy throughout the day. Not only are these more nutritious alternatives, but foods like apples and carrot sticks can actually help remove food debris after a meal. Nuts and string cheese are also great options that both contain calcium (which can strengthen tooth enamel). Almonds and cashews can even fight oral bacteria!
Hype Up H2O
Staying hydrated is key for oral and overall health, but many of your teen’s favorite beverages can do more harm than good. If your teenager relies on energy drinks or coffee to get moving in the morning, their teeth could be in trouble. The acidic nature of coffee can lead to staining, while energy drinks have been found to cause twice as much enamel loss as some of the most popular sports drinks. And even if your teen believes sports drinks will help their athletic performance, it certainly won’t help their smile.
Ultimately, the best beverage your teen can drink is water. Water can help wash away food particles, impede the growth of bacteria, and prevent dry mouth, all while ensuring your teen achieves optimal hydration throughout the day. If your teen finds water a bit too boring, try flavoring it naturally with a slice of lemon, lime, or orange or by adding some mint leaves. As your dentist for teens would point out, this is a much healthier alternative to soda.
Preserve Those Pearly Whites
Your teen’s sports team might not be quite ready to start up again, but it’s still a good idea for them to protect their teeth during physical activity. A mouthguard can potentially protect your teen’s teeth from being broken or knocked out during a practice or a game. It should be considered to be essential safety gear, just like a helmet or knee pads. Be sure to get your teen a storage case for their mouthguard and remind them to clean it regularly.
Your teen might also need a mouthguard to wear at night. Given how much stress they might currently be under, it’s possible they could be grinding their teeth in their sleep. It’s best to set healthy habits now to prevent issues with TMJ or damaged teeth. Talk to a dentist for teens about having a nightguard fitted to address these kinds of issues for a better night’s sleep.
Boost the Need to Brush
Any dentist for teens would stress the need for regular brushing and flossing. While you can’t keep tabs on your teenager at all times to ensure they’re executing their oral care routine to perfection, you can make sure they have all the tools they need to care for their teeth. Stay well-stocked with fluoride toothpaste, dental floss, and mouthwash — and place these materials in a prominent place in your teen’s bathroom.
You might even consider talking to them about teeth whitening treatments or Invisalign as a means of motivation, as having a beautiful smile is often more of a priority than preventing plaque. You could also invest in an electric toothbrush, which can provide a more thorough cleaning and take the guesswork out of brushing. Pediatric dentists can often recommend a good brand and model.
Don’t Delay Dental Visits
Your teen might not be excited to make a visit to a family dental practice right now, but it’s best to stay current with their regular appointments whenever possible. Your dentist for teens can provide the preventative care necessary to avoid expensive and complicated dental work down the line. By addressing cavities, misalignment, and the need for wisdom teeth extraction quickly, your teen will have a better handle on their oral health and a strong foundation for their adult life.
Armed with these back-to-school tips, your teen can start off the new school year on the right note. For more information on how our team can set your teen up for oral care success, please contact us today.