If you’ve got a “preteen” in the house, or a child who is between the age of 9 to 12, you likely have a lot to consider as far as changes and parenting. However, it is important to know that these changes, including the ones in their body and their lifestyle, can put them at a greater risk for dental problems. As your child enters adolescence, you may have to put forth some extra effort to ensure their smile health stays up to par.
Along with new changes to the body, brain and emotions, your preteen will encounter extra risk factors for tooth decay and gum disease. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, 1 in every 5 adolescents has untreated tooth decay. Decay and gum disease are two of the most serious oral health problems, as they can lead to tooth loss and affect their overall health.
Why is decay and gum disease so prevalent in preteens? There are a couple factors that strongly contribute, such as:
We don’t have to remind you of your child’s raging hormones as they emerge adolescence, as you are likely feeling the effects of the emotional swings. But you may not know that your child’s change in hormone levels can also have a major impact on their gum health, which may present itself as red, puffy, sensitive or bleeding gums. In fact, “puberty gingivitis” peaks around age 11-13 and is the most common type of gum disease found during childhood.
You are likely letting your preteen have a little more freedom, which includes making their own choices about eating habits and reminding them less about their oral hygiene responsibilities. While this is important for your child to learn independence, it often leads to more snacks and beverages that are sugary and acidic (such as sports drinks, sodas, refined carbs, etc). If they don’t stay on top of their brushing and flossing habits, this can wreak havoc on their oral health, allowing extra plaque and bacteria to accumulate – a perfect recipe for cavities and gum disease.
We know you and your preteen have a lot to think about these days. Therefore, we welcome the opportunity to partner with you and ensure your child’s oral health doesn’t suffer through the challenging transitional years. We can recommend extra fluoride treatments, sealants or other preventive services to protect a preteen’s smile from the common changes that may sabotage their dental health. Call Gilreath Family Dentistry today to learn more.
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,