If you have a teenager in your household, we know you’ve got plenty to worry about. However, among GPA’s, curfews and peer groups, you may also need to put their oral health on your radar. Those raging hormones can impact the conditions of their gums just as much as they do your teen’s attitude. Specifically, the hormonal changes in adolescents puts them at a much greater risk for gingivitis. Gingivitis is nothing to play around with, as it is the first stage of gum disease. Untreated gum disease accounts for tooth loss as well as serious drawbacks within one’s overall health.
Why are teens so susceptible to gum disease? Let’s understand how gum disease develops in the first place. When bad bacteria enter the mouth and we don’t do enough to get rid of them (brushing, flossing, seeing the dentist), then they start to breed and grow until they irritate and even infect the gum tissues. Unfortunately, the average teen offers bacteria a perfect environment to live and multiply.
Hormones: The sudden surge in hormones that occurs during puberty (especially in girls) can cause increased blood circulation in the gums, which leaves the gums tender, swollen and extra sensitive.
Inconsistent Oral Hygiene: It is not uncommon for your teen to slack on his or her brushing and flossing habits during their newfound stages of independence. Sadly, this can greatly contribute to the presence of gum disease and teen gingivitis.
Braces: There is a large majority of teenagers who have to wear braces. This is another obstacle to good oral hygiene, as the brackets and wires themselves can make it difficult to clean out food debris, plaque and bad bacteria from the teeth and gums. In turn, it is common to see puffy and red gums on a child with braces.
Carb-Heavy Snacks and Meals: Let’s face it; pizza is a go-to meal for most teens. Whether it is pizza or sweets, frequent and late-night eating habits are especially common in teens. These carb-rich choices, however, contain extra sugars that oral bacteria love to feed on.
What Can You Do?
First and foremost, keep a close eye on your teen’s gums. Do they look red, swollen or irritated? Do they bleed easily? Does your child suffer from chronic bad breath? It is important to get your teenager in for routine dental visit at Gilreath Family Dentistry so that we can examine your child’s gums and recommend any extra therapies to reverse gingivitis. If your teen is not willing to be lectured by you on how to properly care for their teeth and gums, we are happy to have the conversation for you. A healthier mouth can make for a happier teen – and who doesn’t want that?
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,