Are teens at higher risk for gum disease?
Whether you heard it from your dentist or saw it on a television commercial, you are probably already aware of the early signs of gum disease, or gingivitis. How much do your teenagers know about this, however, and do they have a higher risk of developing it?
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a disease that infects the healthy gum tissue responsible for supporting your teeth. Left undiagnosed and untreated, it can advance to periodontal disease, a more serious form of the infection.
Who can get it?
Everyone is susceptible, but teenagers may be especially at risk for gum disease, and here are some reasons why:
- Many teens wear fixed braces, which makes it difficult to properly clean and floss teeth.
- For some teenage girls, the normal fluctuation of hormones before their period begins may cause a low grade bacterial infection in their gums. There may be no visible sign of this, but sometimes it causes swollen and bleeding gums or mouth sores to occur. Most of the time, however, this clears up on its own once the period begins.
- Some medications, including oral contraceptives and anti-depressants can affect overall oral health, so keeping your dentist informed about any prescription is important.
- Certain medical conditions, including juvenile diabetes, may affect oral health and make it harder to fight infection due to increased glucose levels in saliva.
- Teens are notorious for poor nutrition, not only because they eat more fast food, but also because they typically skimp on both exercise and sleep. Add a dose of stress to this cocktail and it would make anyone vulnerable to infection, whether it is just a common cold or gum disease.
- Tobacco is a smoking gun for gingivitis. Recent studies show that smoking may even be one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease today.
What can you do?
The best recipe for healthy gums is a combination of good oral hygiene and regular visits to your general dentist. If you would like to learn more about how to prevent gum disease, please come in for a free consultation.