You overheard your teenager saying they hardly ever brush their teeth. You're understandably upset. It may seem mind-boggling, but some people simply don't get into the habit of brushing at least twice a day.
A 2004 Gallup survey found that a full 34 percent of teenagers confess to not brushing twice per day. Three percent of boys said they don't even brush every day, although none of the girls were quite that lax. Some 15 percent of this age group said they never floss, and another 29 percent said they hardly ever do.
It's important to turn this situation around promptly. Use some strategies to get your youngster back on track.
Mention Bad Breath
Your teen may figure that bad breath from not brushing or flossing can be resolved with a breath mint or chewing gum. However, unless use of mints and chewing gum is nearly continuous, bad breath reemerges.
You can have your teenager test this by asking them to lick the inside of their wrist and then smell that area a few seconds later. That dried saliva is what the breath smells like.
Another demonstration involves flossing. If your teenager isn't brushing, they probably aren't flossing, but ask them to just floss between their front teeth and take a whiff of the string. The odor will most likely be noteworthy, and not in a pleasant way. Do they want their friends -- and possible romantic interests -- encountering that aroma?
Try a Different Toothbrush
Ask your teen if they would be willing to use an electric toothbrush. The novelty might make the process more appealing. Provide some floss in different flavors as well.
Talk about Cavities & Gum Disease
If your teenager has ever had cavities filled, you'd think they'd want to avoid that happening again in the future. However, adolescents may come to believe they're too old to get cavities, especially if they haven't had one in several years.
Remind your teen about the importance of brushing and flossing to prevent cavities, as well as tartar buildup that leads to gum disease. You might show them disturbing pictures you can find online illustrating what happens when people neglect oral hygiene. Even ones that simply show teeth that look unattractive due to yellowing and plaque buildup can be effective.
Discuss the Dental Bill ahead of Time
You might decide that if the dental bill is higher because your teenager needs more work done than the dentist says is normal, the teen is responsible for that extra cost.
Schedule a Dental Appointment
Explain the situation to the clinic when you call to schedule a dental appointment for your teenager. Ask the dentist to tell your youngster how essential good oral hygiene is. The teen may respond better to this type of authority figure.