Teens have a lot of choices to make for themselves, and while taking care of their oral health should be an easy one, there is a lot of competition for their attention. Oral Health America (OHA) strives to equip teens with the tools they need to make better decisions and ultimately have improved oral and overall health outcomes. It’s not just about a bright Hollywood smile but their health for a lifetime.

Here are six tips to develop or keep a healthy smile:

1. Brush two times for 2 minutes

Choose a fluoridated toothpaste and soft bristled toothbrush to brush teeth, gums and tongue once in the morning and once at night for two minutes. Every six months, visit a dental provider for a professional cleaning.

2. Avoid tobacco

While the rate of cigarette smokers is declining, e-cigarettes, hookah and smokeless tobacco, or chew, remain popular. 95% of adult smokers begin smoking before they turn 21, putting their health - including their oral health - at risk.  New products, including e-cigarettes, contain a liquid that has nicotine and other known carcinogens, making them as dangerous as regular cigarettes.

3. Choose healthy beverages

Sugary sports drinks, energy drinks, juice and soda are high in calories but low in nutrients, while the high acid and sugar may cause tooth decay. Choose milk, or a milk-like beverage high in calcium, and fluoridated water to help dilute the acids in the mouth and protect teeth from cavities.

4. Practice sports safety

Athletes participating in contact sports should wear a properly fitted mouth guard to prevent oral or mouth injuries.

5. Hpv and oral cancer

Each day, approximately 19,000 teens and young adults become infected with Human Papillomavirus (HPV), increasing the risk of certain precancers, cancers and other diseases. Teens can protect themselves against HPV-related cancers later in life with the HPV vaccine, using protection if they are sexually active and getting screened to prevent the spread of the infection.

6. Oral piercing risks

Oral piercings may introduce complications, such as the transmission of hepatitis viruses and bacteria at the time of the piercing or during wound care. If you or your teen is seeking a piercing, encourage them to research oral piercing establishments and their safety practices.