Ask Mike Allen – Teenage Dental Health

Teenage years and maintaining oral health care.

Continuing our ‘ask the dentist’ series, we received the following question which we suspect may sound more than familiar to a number of our Burton parents!

Q. I have two teenage sons, one 14 and the other 15, neither of whom are great at looking after their teeth. Obviously, at this age, it is harder to make them do things that they don’t wish to and that seems to include brushing their teeth. Both drink far too many fizzy drinks for my liking and the oldest one has recently started smoking despite my best efforts to dissuade him. Neither have been to see a dentist in the last year or so either, despite promises that they will do. Do you have any suggestions as to how to encourage them?

The teenage years are always difficult as any parent will attest. In many ways this is understandable as they are finding their way into the world for the first time, yet lack the experience of life to fully understand the potential consequences of decisions that they take. This applies to their oral health too where poor decisions, such as neglecting dental visits, is likely to have an impact in later life.

I’m sure that we don’t need to tell you the value of brushing, and it should be said, flossing their teeth, but as to how to encourage this will depend on the personalities of your two sons.

From our experience as a long standing family dentist in Burton, we find that treating teenagers with courtesy and respect goes a long way in helping them to understand the importance of good oral health. Patronising a teenager is one of the surest ways of ensuring that you don’t see them again, and at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice, our staff are trained to treat all patients, including teenagers, with the utmost respect.

Teenagers also often see parents as figures of authority, and, as we are sure that you have noticed, sometimes resist what seems like sensible advice, almost out of the need to rebel. As a dentist, we are not usually seen in this light and the key to your problem is perhaps, to enable us to take over the role of oral health expert who can offer advice that your sons may listen to and act upon.

The problem lies in convincing a teenager to go to the dentist though and we have no magic wand to wave here I’m afraid. Our advice would be to take some action that you know your sons would act upon. Perhaps offering to pay for their tickets to Glastonbury or some other thing which is significant in their life, providing that they pay our practice a visit. Though we may not like having to give in in this way as parents, it is probably worth it to help your sons back on the track of good oral health.

Once they meet one of dental team, we can help them to understand that looking after their teeth is not difficult and nor does it eat significantly into their their precious time. As they will soon, if they are not already, be looking for relationships, having healthy teeth and a great smile are something that they will, eventually, thank you for.

We look forward to seeing your sons in the not too distant future and to help them get their oral health back on track. The number to call for an appointment at Mike Allen’s Dental Practice is 01283 845345.