“I run around the house demanding my 13-year old daughter brush! I ask her to breathe in my face so I can smell her bad breath.” Retired from the military, Eric’s commanding style wasn’t effective. He had no clue what to do to get her to comply.
Eric just spent $11,000 on two dental implants. His dentist told him his hard toothbrush and forceful brushing technique was removing enamel requiring some gum surgery in the near future. He felt more determined than ever to spare his daughter from a similar future of expense and pain.
Here is how you can get your teenage child to brush:
1- Don’t Tell Them What To Do
It never works! When you tell them to clean their room, or go to bed early, does it work? Nobody, no matter what age you are, is receptive to demands and orders. Threatening them, if they don’t comply to your demands, can have the opposite effect all together. It’s more effective to try the suggestions below.
2- Ask Questions
Find out WHY they don’t like to brush. Let them speak. Stay quiet and listen to their answer without judgement. Maybe the toothpaste irritates their oral tissue. Maybe their teeth feel clean and they don’t think they need to. Maybe they don’t care about being a kid with fuzzy, stained teeth.
Once you identify why they don’t like to brush, then you have a much clearer idea about what is preventing them from practicing oral hygiene.
Text to their phone some short sweet informative tips about oral health:
“Individuals who have poor oral hygiene have an increased risk of heart disease compared to those who brush their teeth twice a day.”
“If you don’t brush, plaque builds up, becomes visibly noticeable and emits an odor.”
“When your gums look red, irritated or bleed, gum disease is actively destroying your teeth and gums.”
Keep the education short and sweet. And, keep them coming! If you pay for the phone, you can send the texts, but don’t expect a reply.
4- Use Visuals
Tape pictures to the bathroom mirror like the one on this post. You can add a question like, “Would you want to kiss this mouth?”
Slip a note into their text book or their lunch bag with a picture or a message, like ‘Take notice of whose teeth you admire.” Perhaps, your child would prefer going to that friends dentist.
Once your teenager understands the short and long term benefits of brushing their teeth at least twice a day, then you can begin to tackle flossing! First things first.
If you have been successful with a technique not mentioned here, please share!