You may think of gum disease as an oral health condition that only adults face. However, patients of all ages are susceptible to gum disease, even children and teens. Gum disease occurs when plaque and tartar are allowed to build up along the gum line. Once the infection sets in, the gums can pull away from the teeth and even lead to tooth loss if not treated properly. Gum disease is a serious matter that not only affects your smile, but you overall health as well. There are many systemic diseases that have been linked to gum disease.
If gum disease is not on your radar for your teen, it should be. In fact, there are some key influencing factors that are distinctive to adolescents, including the following:
- The Cool Factor
- Let’s face it. It’s not always “cool” to brush and floss as a teen. Whether it is a busy schedule, late study hours or peer influence, if your teen is not keeping up with his or her routine brushing and flossing habits, gum disease has an open invitation.
- The Braces Factor
- The teenage years are often the time to undergo orthodontic treatment. Unfortunately, the brackets, bands and wires of braces make oral hygiene very difficult to maintain. Many young patients struggle with red, puffy gums while in braces. This can be diagnosed as gingivitis, which is the first stage of gum disease.
- The Diet Factor
- It is not uncommon for teens to snack on high-carb foods, eat candy or drink sodas and sports drinks. Unfortunately, these can all sabotage your teen’s smile, leading to plaque accumulation and gum disease.
- The Hormone Factor
- You may be well aware of how hormones influence your teen’s mood, but did you know they can also impact their dental health? Studies show that a spike in progesterone and estrogen levels causes increased blood flow to the gums of teen girls. As a result, her gums may become especially sensitive and prone to irritation during puberty.
With diligent brushing and flossing efforts at home as well as attending six-month professional cleanings at the dentist, your teen can overcome the risk factors that affect adolescents in regards to gum disease. Encourage your teen to drink water throughout the day, as this can be a powerful weapon to combat the common dietary habits of teens that can be a detriment to their smile. At Gilreath Family Dentistry, we welcome the opportunity to care for your teen’s smile. We also offer post-ortho refinement to ensure the teeth and gums are restored to optimal health after braces.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,