Encouraging Good Oral Hygiene Habits in Teens

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One of the things I focus on with the girls is good oral hygiene. Having had to have fillings as a teen, I don’t want the girls to also go through that and I am forever emphasising how important it is to look after their mouth and teeth.

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The eldest recently had her braces taken off and and now that her teeth are ‘perfect’ she does need to focus on keeping her teeth clean and generally look after her oral health.

So how do you encourage good oral hygiene habits in your teenager?

Remind them of the dangers of bad oral hygiene

Bad oral hygiene will possibly lead to bad breath, stained teeth and dental problems which may lead to an unpleasant trip to the dentist. Most teenagers will not want bad breath or stained teeth! Ensure they know the correct way to brush and how long they should be brushing for; use timers if necessary.

Allow them to pick their own dental products

Teenagers may be more inclined to use products if they have been able to go shopping and pick their own choice of toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash. Let them have that choice.

Remind them of good food habits

As teenagers it is so easy to just eat ‘junk food’ a lot of the time. Remind them to limit how many sweets and chocolate they have and also remind them of the benefits of healthy eating in general.

Chewing Gum

Apart from the usual ways of keeping your mouth and teeth clean such as brushing your teeth, flossing and using mouth wash, did you know that chewing gum can also be extremely beneficial? Many of us use chewing gum in our daily lives to freshen our breath during the day and studies have shown that gum is a cheap, readily available health booster. Gum improves dental health and sugar-free chewing gum is approved by Dental Associations around the world. But there are many more benefits of chewing gum.

Improves Health – Chewing gum supplements the body’s natural protections as it generates saliva. This is beneficial as saliva has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.

Improves alertness, enhances memory, and as a mood booster can help reduce stress – this is ideal for teenagers who may be going through their exams and exam stress!

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There have been scientific studies backing the health claims.

A study found: “positive attributes of effects of chewing on attention, especially on sustained attention, were shown in over half of the reports. These effects also appeared with improvement in mood and stress relief and were influenced by time-on-task effect. Further studies are needed, but chewing could be useful for modifying cognitive function.” Hirano Y, Onozuka M. Chewing and attention: a positive effect on sustained attention. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:367026. doi: 10.1155/2015/367026. Epub 2015 May 17. PMID: 26075234; PMCID: PMC4449948.

Research has also shown that chewing gum can enhance memory which would help when studying for their exams.

A 2002 study tested 75 subjects who chewed gum, mimicked the motion of chewing (sham group) and those who did nothing (quiet group): “The most striking finding was a significant effect on both immediate and delayed word recall, with more words being recalled in the chewing condition compared with the quiet control condition. The Spatial Working Memory sensitivity index and Numeric working memory reaction time were similarly improved in the chewing condition, and also in the sham chewing condition for the latter measure (which reflects the efficiency of working memory operations). In addition, simple reaction times were slower in the sham chewing condition than in the quiet control condition.” Wilkinson, L., Scholey, A., & Wesnes, K. (2002). Chewing gum selectively improves aspects of memory in healthy volunteers. Appetite, 38(3), 235-236.

So with all these benefits, chewing gum is great to add to your oral hygiene habits, including teenagers.

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