Advice for Helping Teens Who Won't Take Care of Their Teeth

The teen years are full of challenges. Stress and other issues that arise in adolescence can cause some teens to stop brushing. If your teenager has stopped caring for their teeth, consider this advice to help them get back on track with their dental health.

Set New Rules for Your Teen

Parents often feel a responsibility to set strict dental care rules for young children who are learning proper brushing techniques and struggling to stick to a routine. They may feel like teens should be capable of handling their dental care themselves. However, teens are still growing and developing on every level, and they can benefit from specific rules.

If your teen is slipping on their dental care, the first step should be establishing new rules. Let your teenager know that you expect them to brush their teeth twice per day. Set rules about flossing and swishing with mouthwash too. 

Tell your teen about the possible consequences for ignoring their dental care. Be open and honest with them about what your expectations are and why you are setting new rules. Reassure your teen that you are only setting rules because you're concerned. That may encourage them to treat their dental care seriously and address this issue in a mature way. 

Enlist the Help of a Trusted Friend 

Sometimes teenagers are just not able to talk to their parents about a problem. They may have specific reasons for no longer caring for their teeth, yet they might not feel comfortable talking to you about it. Teens may fear that parents will judge them or just won't understand. This may seem irrational if you've always been there for your teenager, but try not to take it personally.

Instead, if your teen is hesitant to discuss their dental problems with you, enlist the help of a family friend they trust. If you know someone who has suffered because of dental issues as an adult, they may be the perfect candidate to share their struggles with your teen. Encourage them to not hold back or shelter your teen from the reality of dental decay and pain.

If a teen doesn't care for their teeth, they may eventually lose them from tooth decay and gum disease. Of course, long-term consequences aren't really first on a young person's mind. However, if a trusted family friend can share their real world experience with dental problems, that may inspire them to give proper dental care a second thought. 

Keep Dental-Friendly Snacks in the Kitchen

Teenagers will grab convenient foods after a hard day at school or a tiring sports activity. Keep your kitchen stocked with convenient, dental-friendly snacks. If you have indulgent snacks in the house, keep them out of the pantry that teens use.

Some delicious, dental-friendly snacks include: 

  • Nuts
  • Raw vegetables
  • Plain popcorn
  • Sugarless chewing gum
  • Flavored rice cakes

Having healthy snacks on hand can help teens avoid foods that can lead to tooth decay. 

Reach Out for Help

Sometimes a teenager stops caring about things like brushing their teeth each day because of an underlying mental health condition. Don't panic because things can improve when these issues are addressed.  If your teen may be depressed, talk to them about going to therapy. They may be hesitant about the idea at first, but encourage them to at least try it for a month. 

A teen who gets professional help for depression has a much better chance of overcoming it. In addition to individual therapy, you may also suggest family therapy. If you suspect that your family's dynamics are stressing your teen out, family therapy may be a necessary part of overcoming the problems. It is also a great place to discuss their hesitancy with dental care.

Finally, once your teen is feeling better, they may start caring for their teeth again without further prompting from you. Contact Airport Road Dental Associates, PC, today to set an appointment for your teen's next dental exam and cleaning. Prioritizing their dental care on your family's schedule can help set a good example that they follow as they transition into adulthood.

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