Step Away From The Selfie And Brush Your Teeth Teens

Bring your teen into see Drs. James and Samuel Owens every six months. If your teen isn’t brushing twice a day, we can help explain why it’s imperative lest their selfies not be so awesome in the future. Call us at 918.455.7700 and make an appointment today.

A Gallup survey recently revealed that only 64 percent of kids age 12 to 17 brush the recommended two times a day. And get ready for this…two percent, the poll found, don't brush at all.

It may not be a surprise that some teens aren't big brushers. After all, they are too busy taking that perfect selfie.

Parents are often urged to choose their battles during these years, and while that's good advice, oral hygiene is a battle worth fighting. Poor brushing habits can lead to cavities, yellowing, gum disease and eventually loss of precious teeth.

Battling a teenager, however, takes some finesse. Here are some effective ways to get your teen to brush their teeth -- and some other approaches that are more likely to be counterproductive.

First, resist the urge to nag, and don't invade your teen's space. Insisting on standing in the bathroom while your teen gets ready for school is probably going to make your kid push back and brush even less. So, what are some actions that just might work?

Explain the consequences -- in detail.

While teens tend not to be forward thinkers, they tend very much to be vain. Of course, describe the long-term consequences that can occur with a failure to brush, including plaque buildup, tooth decay, gum surgery, root canal, tooth loss, and even heart disease in the most extreme cases. But here's the trick: Focus on the more superficial elements of poor oral care, like stained, ugly teeth and terrible breath. That might get their attention.

Make it more interesting.

Depending on the age of your teen, you might be able to encourage brushing by either making it fun or making it worth their while. For the younger ones (say, 13-15), adding an iPod into the brushing routine can make it less of a chore. There are Justin Bieber toothbrushes out there which might help if the teen you're trying to affect is a 13-year-old girl.

For teens of all ages, rewards can help (at least until they realize brushing is its own reward). Maybe if your teen brushes twice a day, every day, for a week, he can take the car out on Saturday night. And then the same for the next week, and the next.

Go to the experts.

In the end, you may need to enlist some help from a more objective source. That could mean some oral-hygiene-related pamphlets left on your kid's pillow, complete with some threatening pictures of gum disease and rotten teeth.

This could also mean a special request at your kid's next dental cleaning, which should be happening at least every six months and is even more important if your teen isn't brushing enough. If you explain the problem to your family dentist, he or she will no doubt be more than happy to offer some definitive, non-annoying advice on the subject that your teen might actually listen to. Especially if there are pictures. Because after all most teens want to look decent for those selfies.