Teenager Taming Tips: How to Win the Battle of the Toothbrush

Posted on: 28 April 2016

While parents may like the independence their children start to show when they turn into teenagers, this can also be a frustrating time. Teenagers are more able to look after themselves; however, they may not always make the right decisions or may be unwilling to follow your advice when they don't do things they should.

For example, some teenagers may fall out of the habit of cleaning their teeth correctly and may ignore any advice you give them on oral hygiene. While you may not be able to force teenagers to use a toothbrush, you can deploy subtle ways to get them back on a better dental hygiene track and to sneakily help them take care of their teeth.

Concede Control

If your teenager is at that stubborn stage, any advice you give may fall on deaf ears. Teenagers are adept at ignoring advice that they perceive to be nagging; they may also simply refuse to do something if you keep telling them they have to do it or should do it. Try giving them some control back. Have a brief discussion about what happens when you don't clean your teeth and then tell them that their oral hygiene is under their control and not yours. This feeling of control may just make them decide that tooth brushing is something they want to do rather than something you want them to do.

Tip: If you have concerns about your teenager's oral health, you may find it useful to talk to your family dentist before your teenager's next check-up. Teenagers may not listen to parental advice about dental care; however, they may take on board advice from a trained dentist, especially if your dentist spots areas of concern that may need dental treatment in the future if your child doesn't start to brush regularly again.

Drop the Cosmetic Bomb

During the teenage years, most children start to take more interest in their appearance and the opposite sex. If your child has started to show more of an interest in clothes, hair and relationships, then you may be able to encourage better oral care by making dental hygiene a cosmetic rather than a health issue. For example, making the point that uncleaned teeth don't look good and that bad breath makes you look bad to your friends may have more of an impact than long chats about tooth decay and gum disease.

Deploy an Electric Toothbrush

Some teenagers will brush their teeth regularly but don't brush for long enough – to clean your teeth effectively, you should aim for two minutes of brushing twice a day. You may be able to subtly encourage teenagers to brush for the right amount of time by buying them an electric toothbrush. These toothbrushes often come with a timer that vibrates after two minutes, making it easier to know how long to brush.

Cut Bad Snacks From the Supply Line

While you may not be able to control what your teenager eats and drinks out of your home, you can control what is available in it. Try not to have a constant supply of sugary snacks and acidic fizzy drinks in your kitchen and look for more tooth-friendly options.

For example, try stocking up with dairy products such as cheese, milk and yogurts. These are a good source of calcium, which may give teenage teeth a sneaky protective boost. Fruits and vegetables are also a good option. While fruits have natural sugars, these are less harmful to your teeth than the sugars in lollies and sugary snacks. Crunchy fruits, such as apples, also give your teeth a scrub when you eat them and create more saliva in the mouth to help wash it clean. Vegetables like carrots, tomatoes and cucumber won't do teeth any harm and give a general vitamin boost.

Tip: While it may seem odd to encourage teenagers to eat sweet things, sugar-free gum is a useful dental tool, especially after eating something that is bad for the teeth. The extra saliva that you produce when you chew gum gives your mouth a quick and easy clean without brushing. Gums that contain xylitol may be especially useful as they have plaque-busting properties.