Even if a child was taught everything they need to know about basic oral care, there is no guarantee that they will carry those good dental habits into adolescence. In fact, they can even pick up bad dental habits that can offset years of good tooth brushing, flossing, and regular dentist appointments.
But unlike children, most teenagers already have full sets of permanent teeth. When they adopt bad dental habits in adolescence or fail to outgrow the bad habits they picked up as children, they are more likely to lose their adult teeth when they develop cavities, gum disease, or other oral problems.
Even if they don’t lose their permanent teeth, oral problems can easily affect other aspects of your child’s life, especially their self-confidence.
That said, here are the bad dental habits that are common among teenagers–and how you can help your child break them.
Not wearing a mouthguard
If your teen plays sports that can potentially knock out a tooth (e.g. football, baseball, lacrosse, etc.), ensure that they are fitted with a mouthguard at the kids’ dentist. This will help prevent chips or cracks in the tooth as well as tooth loss if ever they incur trauma to the face while playing sports.
However, some teens forget to wear their mouthguards or simply refuse to do it in fear of looking “uncool” in front of their peers. If your child constantly forgets to wear their mouthguard, whether deliberately or not, make it a point to always remind them to wear it, and don’t forget to stress the importance of doing so. It can also help to put their mouthguard in a little container that can be attached to their sports bag so that they won’t forget.
Failure to maintain oral piercings
Teenagers want to express their individuality, and sometimes, they do so through piercings.
Oral piercings are riskier than piercings in other parts of the body, say the ears or the eyebrows, because the mouth houses millions of bacteria, making it prone to infection. Apart from that, metal piercings can also collide with the front teeth, which can lead to cracking or scratching if your teen is not extremely careful (they won’t be).
If your teen wants an oral piercing, let them know the risks involved. If they still want to push through, take them to a reputable piercer to ensure they get pierced in the place relative to their mouth and teeth. Afterward, teach your teen how to maintain their oral piercing by encouraging them to rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after eating, as well as be on the lookout for signs of swelling.
Drinking and eating lots of sugar
Just like children, teens love sugary foods and drinks. And now that they’re older, they have more freedom to buy food outside and eat almost anything they want.
Sodas, candy, energy drinks, sugary coffee–these are common in a teen’s diet, which is often not seen as a problem because of their high metabolism and lower susceptibility to chronic diseases. But even if consuming sugar-rich foods and drinks does not cause weight gain or heart disease, it should be a cause of concern. Why? Because excessive amounts of sugar in the diet is a common cause of tooth decay, which can lead to persistent pain, dental abscess, or even permanent tooth loss.
Help your teen reduce their sugar intake by minimizing sugar-rich foods in the house. When there is no steady supply of sodas in the fridge or candy in the pantry, they will be less likely to indulge in sugary treats. Apart from that, you should also get them to drink plenty of water, rinse their mouth, or brush their teeth after ingesting something particularly sweet.
Peer pressure can have your teen taking up bad habits that they shouldn’t have tried in the first place, including smoking.
Smoking causes negative effects on one’s overall health, particularly their oral health. If your teen takes up this habit, they can be susceptible to tooth and tongue staining, which can greatly affect their self-esteem. In the long term, smoking can lead to gum disease, halitosis, tooth decay, and other oral health problems that they may carry into adulthood.
Help your teen kick this habit before it gets worse. Seek help from your family doctor and find out what you can do to get your child to stop smoking.
If your teenager still has some bad habits to kick, help them do so before they turn into adults, and potentially carry those habits into the next chapter of life. Although it’s not easy getting a teen to do something, your guidance will well be worth it to protect their oral health.
Meta title: Bad Dental Habits That Your Teen Should Break
meta desc: Bad dental habits can ruin your child’s health and future. Here’s how you can help your teen break their bad dental habits.