Smile! How Parents Can Use The Selfie Craze To Get Their Teenagers To Improve Their Teeth

Getting teenagers to agree to good oral health habits or long-term cosmetic dental procedures, like braces, can be an uphill battle. Yet, parents have a special weapon that they can use to convince their children to practice healthier dental habits: the selfie. Here is a guide to help parents understand why selfies are so important to teenagers, and how parents can use this knowledge to convince children to engage in healthier dental habits. 

What is a Selfie?

In 2013, the Oxford Dictionary added a new word: "selfie." A "selfie" is defined as a self-taken photograph that is then posted and shared on social media. 

Teenagers and Selfies

Approximately 81% of American teenagers use some form of social media. Unfortunately, over half of teenage girls and over a third of teenage boys who engage in social media admit that these websites make them feel bad about themselves and their self-image. Interestingly enough, however, these teenagers also confess that a really great selfie actually improves their self-esteem instead of lowering it. 

Selfies help teenagers achieve "self-efficacy," or confidence in personal abilities and resilience at the hand of challenges. It's no wonder why: when teenagers feel good about their personal appearance and how others view them, they generally have a higher sense of self-concept, which translates not only into confidence in social situations, but also into confidence in the classroom. Because teenagers have control over both the camera and what they post on their social media accounts, selfies give teenagers the opportunity to present themselves in a manner that they feel best represents them. 

The Downside of Selfies

The search for the perfect selfie is not always a healthy one. For a teenager, even the most minor, seemingly insignificant flaw can mean the difference between a good selfie and a train wreck. Teenagers are naturally and hormonally sensitive about body image, and social media often exacerbates these issues. This is because teenagers--and most social media users, to be sure--compare themselves to their online friends who, like themselves, are only posting the most perfect representations of themselves. Generally, social media alone does not create negative body image issues, but for teens that are predisposed to this mindset, social media can increase already-existing insecurities and negative self image. Social media is a breeding ground for a comparison war that, if engaged, few teenagers win. 

Using the Selfie for Better Dental Habits

Studies show that people with straight, white teeth are perceived as more attractive, more successful, more interesting, and greatly desired. People with great smiles are also more successful in the dating arena. Most teenagers do not give much thought to the nuances associated with the psychology of nice teeth, but parents can use this information as ammunition to get their children to take better care of their teeth, and even more willingly agree to temporarily undesired cosmetic dentistry procedures, such as braces. 

The number of teenagers interested in plastic surgery for the purposes of a great selfie increases every year, and many teenagers follow through with such procedures. When a teenager brings up these ideas, a parent can counter the argument with a solid one about the importance of healthy teeth.

Plastic surgery is not always recommended or affordable for teenagers; on the other hand, cosmetic dentistry not only increases a person's health, but also provides a marked increase in perceived attractiveness. All the filters, angles, and apps available in the online world cannot replace or fix a crooked smile or stained teeth, but cosmetic dentistry at places like Dansville Family Dental Care can do so with the advantageous side effect of better health.