The teenage years can be so challenging. You’re caught in this strange purgatory between childhood and adulthood where you’re constantly experiencing stress as a result of physical, social, and hormonal changes. One unfortunate side effect is that a lot of teens experience oral health issues, including gum disease.
Can Teens Have Gum Disease?
The existence of teen gum disease surprises a lot of people. The truth is that you can develop gum disease at any age, and hormonal changes can make you even more prone to oral health complications. If you combine less than ideal oral health habits with the hormonal changes that accompany the teen years, you have a recipe for disaster. Fortunately, with a little education and improved habits, you can keep teen gum disease at bay.
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums that causes inflammation, irritation, and sometimes pain. That by itself doesn’t sound too scary, but there are serious risks involved. Untreated gum disease will eventually spread beyond the gums to the jaw.
As the infection progresses, it can physically eat away at the structures that support your teeth and hold them in place. This can cause permanent tooth loss. If that wasn’t enough, chronic gum disease is also associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is caused by the build-up of bacteria along the gums and on your teeth. Generally speaking, a regular oral hygiene routine is enough to remove bacteria before they can cause issues. However, are you skipping brushing or flossing? Then bacteria has an opportunity to harden onto your teeth in the form of plaque.
Once plaque has formed, it’s important to remove it before it further solidifies into tartar. Tartar is also called dental calculus, and it has to be removed by a professional. In both forms, bacteria are essentially free to go about their business. This irritates your gums and leads to further bacterial growth.
How Do You Treat Gum Disease?
Your dentist in Arcadia is the expert when it comes to treating gum disease, but it is always better to catch it early. That’s why it’s so important to go and see your dentist for a check-up twice a year. Thanks to x-rays and your dentist’s keen eyes, these bi-annual appointments are the most likely to detect even the sneakiest forms of gum disease. So you can receive treatment before there’s any permanent damage.
If it’s relatively early, your gum disease treatment in Arcadia may be limited to a thorough cleaning. Scaling and root planing are two examples, and they both use stronger dental tools to scrape away plaque and tartar that have formed on your teeth and below the gum line. Afterward, you may need to take an antibiotic for a couple of weeks to ensure the bacteria are all gone.
In more advanced cases you may require surgery or a gum graft after your mouth has been purged of the offending bacteria. With any luck that will resolve any damage. But if you have lost teeth you can discuss tooth replacement options with your dentist.
Top Tips for Teens
Being a teenager is hard, so having yet another thing to worry about probably isn’t what you want. The good news is that you can protect your teeth and your gums with relatively little effort as long as you adapt your oral hygiene routine to your schedule. Here are some suggestions that may help.
- Take a portable toothbrush and toothpaste to school. Especially if you eat meals on campus or have after school activities that run late. Just make sure the toothbrush is kept in a case with air holes to prevent bacterial growth. And change your toothbrush every 3 months or so.
- Keep floss by your bed to remind you. If you hate flossing, talk to your parents about using a water flosser. It isn’t as good, but it’s better than nothing.
- Don’t smoke. We know you’ve heard it a million times, but it is one of the worst things you can do to your teeth and gums.