Ah, it is summertime and the weather is hot! Your teens are out of school and hopefully finding ways to enjoy their time. Perhaps they have summer jobs to keep them busy for part of it. The rest of the time, it can be a bit of a battle to make sure they are at least maintaining some good habits before school starts again!

As more and more schools try to remove unhealthy food options from their premises, we certainly hope that such action leads to better oral and overall health for our teens. However, in the summer, teens have that much more free time. And if you are a parent of a teen, you know how much harder it is to control any aspect of a teen’s life when they have time on their hands!

With that extra free time, will they be spending more of it at the store or a fast food restaurant, increasing the amount of sugary soft drinks they consume? We all know that teens tend to favour soft drinks over healthier options, such as water. And the amount of sugar contained in such drinks, combined with the amount teens tend to drink, can wreak havoc on their teeth by eroding away the protective enamel.

But that is not the only issue teens can have with their oral health in the summer. How can we make sure they are brushing their teeth properly? Teens often operate on a different schedule from their parents, going to bed later and also waking up later.

Hopefully, you have instilled in them good habits for brushing and flossing when they were younger. More importantly, we hope they will continue to adhere to those lessons on their own. Of course, since teens tend to want to look good, now may be a good time to appeal to their sense of vanity, but in a way that does not create any insecurities!

Even having them come in to visit us at Rideau Dental Centre can be a challenge. If they are due for a dental appointment during the summer, will they make sure they keep their appointment on their own?

Though it is much harder at this stage, you still need to talk to your teen about many aspects of their lives, including their oral health. We all understand that they think they know everything, but a friendly reminder from mom and dad still can help. If good oral health habits have been ingrained in them from a young age, that might help some of these friendly reminders go over a bit better. So if your child is not yet a teen, make sure you are stressing the importance of good oral health habits now.

Good oral health habits are more important than you might think. Amongst kids age 5 to 17, poor oral health is considered the most common chronic health condition they face. It is responsible for more missed school days than any other chronic condition. The pain and discomfort that accompanies poor dental and periodontal health contributes to poorer academic performance.

So while we all want our teens to enjoy their summer, we still want them to be responsible for themselves. Maintaining good oral health practices during the summer, complete with a health diet, will really help them when they head back to school in September.

So, just because they are teens and they know it all, don’t be afraid to show them you care by reminding them to look after their mouths! Because looking after their oral health in the summer is a healthy habit…and healthier habits lead to healthier lives.

Dr. Martin LaBoissonniere

Dental Surgeon