Tips for teens will benefit them for years to comeFeatured Products Promotional Features
Posted by: The Probe 9th July 2021
If you are, or have been, the parent of a teenager, you might agree that engaging with them can sometimes be a challenge. Adolescence is an intense time of life and for this particular generation, they will have been impacted by the pandemic in so many ways, some of which they may not yet fully realise.
For oral health practitioners, the goal is simply to encourage teens and adolescents to practise everyday preventive dental behaviours. But this age group will be experimenting with their independence and boundaries as they move away (emotionally, if not physically) from the family unit and start to make their own choices. They’ll also be more influenced by their friends and people they’ve never met, via social media.
Find your hook
But most teens want to look and feel good, and like to take care of themselves too, and this is where you can find your “hook”. Everyday oral hygiene that keeps their mouths clean and their teeth looking white and bright, is an easy way to boost self-esteem and can be the gateway to better general health and wellbeing. You are in the position of being able to offer practical advice that is simple to implement, but which will have significant, long-term benefits when adhered to.
Their smile is probably the best place to start. An attractive, confident smile is always an asset and your teen patients will be no strangers to the selfie. We all post on social media to connect with and get feedback from our peers, and there has been a great deal written about how photo and video-sharing apps can lead to us making unfavourable comparisons with our own lives and, crucially, appearance. “Selfie Harm” was a 2019 project by fashion photographer Rankin, who took portraits of volunteers aged between 13 and 19, before letting them re-touch their photos, to be social media ready.[i] The results, he said, showed patterns in the changes made – bigger eyes, smoother skin, for example – and that this “homogenous idea of beauty and perfection is pervasive”. But long before Instagram was launched, the idea of fitting in to be accepted was still part of the adolescent experience.
Encourage patients to explore their own interactions with these visual platforms. Do certain apps make them feel sad and insecure? Is it time to switch it off, and find a safer space online? One alternative view is that selfies give an individual control of their own image; they can be empowering.[ii] So instead of trying to match an ideal, should they be proud of their uniqueness instead? Notably, in Rankin’s project, his subjects ended up preferring their original portraits.
Focus on the positive
Harness the positive. Discuss with adolescent patients how they feel about their smile – a cornerstone of facial attractiveness – and what they could do to improve it. Learning how to clean correctly means a wonderful, whiter is smile often more achievable than they think; poor cleaning is one of the main causes of discolouration.[iii] When they experience how a thoroughly clean mouth really feels, they can start to appreciate the necessity of a daily dental hygiene routine, which will also reduce their risk of caries, gum disease as well as halitosis – which will dent the confidence of any socially-conscious teen. It will also help them to avoid complications like tooth loss (a situation that will seem like a lifetime away to a young person); neglected oral health could affect the stability of any subsequent dental treatment too. But if you really want to speak their language, establishing an effective hygiene routine now means they’ll spend less time and money at the dentist in the future.
To support their brushing, recommend a high-quality toothpaste, such as Arm & Hammer TM Advance WhiteTM Pro for a brighter smile. The low-abrasive formula contains baking soda, for plaque removal efficacy and daily freshness. If they are serious about whitening, they could use Arm & Hammer TM Advance WhiteTM with Micropolisher TechnologyTM, which leaves the teeth up to 3 shades whiter in 6 weeks with twice daily brushing, while forming a protective shield to prevent further staining. Once their teeth look and feel better, this can trigger discussions about what they should be (and should not be) eating and drinking to maintain their hard work, also things like smoking cessation. Could they be less inclined to experiment with cigarettes if they’re enjoying the benefits of a beautiful smile?
When the teeth look and feel better, these things combined can motivate young people in good daily hygiene and prevention. With positive discussion and practical (and cheap) to implement top tips, show them how easily a more beautiful smile can be achieved. Ultimately, help them to understand that what they do now, is an investment for the future.
Arm & Hammer™ oral healthcare products are available at Boots, Superdrug, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda and Morrisons throughout the UK.
[i] ‘Selfie Harm’: experiment shows what’s problematic about editing apps. Feature Shoot, 21 June 2019.
[ii] McLean SA, Jarman HK, Rodgers RF. How do “selfies” impact adolescents’ well-being and body confidence?
A narrative review. Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2019 Jul 9; 12: 513-521.
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