5 Tips To Teaching Your Child About Dental Health
girl smiling with pink bonnet

Your teenager’s favorite pastimes include playing Minecraft, FaceTiming friends, and eating you out of house and home. Spending time brushing their teeth — and listening to you constantly tell them to do it — isn’t anywhere near their priority list. #hardpass

That doesn’t mean your child’s dental hygiene shouldn’t be a priority. Many teenage dental problems, like cavities, happen due to subpar dental hygiene.

The right techniques can help motivate your pre-teen or teenage child to invest more time and energy in maintaining their smile. Let’s explore five tips for teaching your child about dental health, including the causes of decay in young adults.

1. Causes of Tooth Decay in Young Adults: Begin Teaching Your Child Early

The best tip for teaching your child about dental health is to start early. If you’ve never explained to your child the causes of tooth decay in young adults, begin now. It’s not too late. They need to know that tooth decay, or a cavity, is one of the most common teenage dental problems. 

Explain that tooth decay occurs because their mouth contains bacteria that generate enamel-destroying acids. The enamel is the hard covering over each tooth. The acids can create cavities (holes) in your child’s enamel if not removed through brushing and flossing.

Tell your child that constantly consuming high-starch foods and sweet beverages may make matters worse by giving the bacteria a food source. So can grinding their pearly whites — a habit that can wear away your enamel’s top layer, making it more prone to developing cavities (if your child grinds their teeth while sleeping, a night guard may help protect them).

Additional decay causes include hard-to-access crevices and teeth that are not aligned properly. If your child’s dental fillings are starting to wear down, the worn parts might also become gathering spots for bacteria. The sooner your child understands the causes of tooth decay in young adults, the more motivated they may be to practice good habits/oral hygiene at home and visit the dentist to prevent it (more on this next).

2. Book Your Child’s Dental Check-Ups

Another way to teach your child about dental health is to schedule their six-month dental visits. Your child’s dentist or dental hygienist will check their teeth for cavities and other teenage dental problems, including the following:

  • Gum disease (gum inflammation) stemming from a rise in hormones
  • Wisdom teeth (back teeth) that aren’t growing properly
  • Development of crooked teeth

The child’s dentist may explain to them that not cleaning their teeth thoroughly at home is one of the causes of tooth decay in young adults and may also lead to gum disease. Maintaining a dental hygiene routine that includes brushing twice daily and flossing once daily may help reverse gum disease, eliminating the need for advanced measures like laser treatment.

The dentist may recommend braces for your child to address overcrowding and crooked teeth. If their mouth isn’t big enough for their newly developed wisdom teeth, the dentist may recommend extractions.

3. Offer Rewards

Yet another tip for teaching your child about dental health is to reward them for excellent dental habits. Let’s say you explain to your child the causes of tooth decay in young adults and they start brushing/flossing and have good dental visit reports. Pre-teens and teens may be motivated by rewards like a new video game, new shoes, the opportunity to skip washing dishes one night, or cash. Remind your child that having fresh breath and a beautiful smile they can be proud of is a reward in and of itself, too.

teenage boy looking in the distance

4. Pick the Right Toothbrush

Helping your child pick the right toothbrush is another way to teach them how good hygiene may help them overcome the causes of tooth decay in young adults. They may especially benefit from an electric toothbrush. These brushes can help your child more easily access tricky areas of the mouth to prevent cavities and gum disease.

5. Emphasize the Brushing Time

Not brushing long enough is one of the causes of tooth decay in young adults. Remind your child that they should be brushing their pearly whites for a couple of minutes. Encourage them to put a two-minute timer on their smartphone. They may alternatively sing the happy birthday song or two minutes of their favorite song.

A teenage child holding a prepared toothbrush

Book An Appointment With Alondra Dental Care Today

We’re passionate about seeing you and your child smile at Alondra Dental Care. We’re well-versed in the most common teenage dental problems and can show your child how to prevent the causes of tooth decay in young adults. We also offer various other oral care treatments and services, including porcelain veneers, dental bridges, and implants. We aim to help you and your family achieve your long-term oral health goals. Give us a call today to set up an appointment!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can parents keep their kids from becoming afraid of the dentist?

Let your child know what they can expect from each dental appointment while positively portraying it. Tell your child that their dentist will gladly answer any questions about the causes of tooth decay in young adults and even teach them how to brush and use floss properly. Don’t share your past nightmarish dental experiences, and avoid threatening your child with a trip to the dentist for bad behavior. Treat the dental experience like a reward early on, and it will continue to feel like that to your child as they age.

2. How can parents prevent teenage dental problems outside of brushing, flossing, and dental visits?

Ensure your child eats nutritious foods, which may help them maintain a wholesome smile. Water, fruits, veggies, and whole grains can help your gums and teeth stay healthy.

3. What can I tell my teen about the connection between their oral health and overall health?

Tell them that the causes of tooth decay in young adults may lead to more than just tooth decay and gum disease. They might also lead to diabetes and heart disease.

About Dr. Abad

Dr. Abad founded Alondra Dental Care with the goal of providing superior dental care through attentive service and state-of-the-art technology. For over 20 years, Dr. Abad has been putting patients first at every step of their dental treatment. When she's not in the office, Dr. Abad can be found in her garden or out giving back to the community. As a member of the American Dental Association, California Dental Association, American Association of Clear Aligners, and Harbor Dental Society, Dr. Abad enjoys educating others on the importance of quality dental health and regular dental exams.