Teenagers as a group have a tendency to be less than diligent in their oral health habits. Brushing and flossing can both fall by the wayside. When coupled with a tendency to snack on more sugary treats and enjoy damaging beverages like soda and energy drinks, teens can experience significantly diminished oral health. The challenge is even greater when teens are undergoing orthodontic treatment, which requires more careful oral hygiene to help teeth stay healthy. This can set them up for a lifetime of poor oral health if not properly countered.

But if can be hard to identify a strategy to intervene with teens that is very effective. After all, it’s partly their rebellion against authority that defines their attitude. However, a new study suggests that texting teens can help them practice good oral hygiene habits, leading to improved oral health.

Two teenage girls looking at a cell phone while smiling and laughing. Text Message Reminders like this Helps Teens Brush

Texts about Teeth

For this study, researchers at Texas A&M University enrolled 80 12- to 17-year olds. All patients had braces, and had them for at least four weeks before the beginning of the study. These patients were given an oral exam at the start of the study, then again at 8 weeks. Half of the teens were texted once a week about their teeth, while the other half was texted daily.

The tweets had a number of different forms. Some of them were very specific to brushing. Others emphasized that good oral hygiene could speed up orthodontic treatment. And some were focused on the benefits of healthy teeth.

Both groups of teens saw their oral health improve significantly. Initially, the group that got weekly reminders had a bleeding index (an indicator of gum disease) of 19.1, which dropped to 14.0 after 8 weeks. The daily reminder group saw their bleeding index drop from from 17.2 to 8.9. Plaque index and gingival index also dropped, with the daily reminder group seeing much greater improvement.

More Communication Desired

How did these teens feel about their regular communication with their dental office? Actually, most of them wanted more. Of the 42% who responded to the follow-up survey, 97% felt that the texts helped them better understand the importance of brushing and flossing. The most motivating message? Good oral health care could lead to shorter orthodontic treatment.

And the teens wanted communication to continue, if not increase. Nearly 40% said they wanted text reminders twice a day, while 20% said they wanted it once a day, and 20% wanted reminders three to four times per week.

Make Sure Your Teens Understand the Importance of Oral Hygiene

If you have teens that are getting orthodontic treatment, it’s important that they understand that brushing and flossing are critical to good oral health. You can motivate them to take better care of their teeth by texting them. You can also remember that the message that most motivates them is that taking care of their teeth can speed treatment. Plus, remind them that healthy, attractive teeth have significant benefits later in life.

If you are looking for a dentist in River Edge, NJ that can help you monitor and improve your the oral health or your entire family, please call (201) 343-4044 today for an appointment at the River Edge Dental Center for General & Cosmetic Dentistry.