The dentist. A dental visit. Brushing your teeth. Flossing.
If any of these phrases send chills down your spine, know that you’re not alone. But while the thought of visiting the dentist or keeping up with your dental duties at home is definitely not as appealing as having a Snickers bar and skipping a brushing session, dental hygiene is actually really important! The better care you take of those pearly whites now, the less trouble you’ll have down the line. It is with this in mind that we think about dental health each February, National Children’s Dental Health Month. Read about all you can do to make sure your chompers are in good shape now and in the future.
One of the main troublemakers for poor dental health is, of course, too much sugar. Even though you may enjoy candy, cookies, soda, juice, or other sweets, it’s these sugary substances that stick to your teeth throughout the day and can lead to cavities and gum disease. This is why it’s so important to brush your teeth whenever you can. In fact, the American Dental Association recommends brushing two times a day for two minutes. Flossing is important, too, since it removes the icky gunk that gets caught between your teeth. If you hate flossing, try using a kind that’s fruity or mint-flavored. Anything to get the job done!
(Insert teen poster from American Dental Association, if you can open file. I couldn’t get permission for use…but Courtesy of the American Dental Association if OK to use without permission) Courtesy of the American Dental Association
Another big thing you can do to reduce the chance of cavities and other problems is to choose healthy foods. The more fruits and veggies you can snack on, the less sugar you’ll have in your mouth to cause trouble. We know you can’t or won’t want to snack healthy all the time, but sometimes is better than not at all.
The website www.mouthhealthy.org/en/Teens also suggests several other ways for teens to keep a healthy mouth. If you play sports, the site encourages always wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth. Not smoking is another huge way to protect your dental hygiene. Lastly, keep up with those dental visits! Consider them an investment in the future of your mouth’s health. Remember…the more you do now, the less you’ll have to worry about later! For fun, take the quiz on www.mouthhealthy.org to see how much you know about dental health and what you can do to improve your knowledge and dental skills.
To learn more about National Children’s Dental Health Month and keeping that smile bright white and to check out fun games and posters, tips and facts, visit www.ada.org and www.mouthhealthy.org.