Gum Disease Can Affect Teens, Too!

Posted on Sep 16, 2014 by William J. Claiborne, DDS MS

Although periodontal (gum) disease is typically associated with adults, teens can also be affected. Even younger children can be victims of gingivitis. Gingivitis can be prevented with regular brushing, flossing and dental visits. However, when untreated, it can advance to full-blown periodontal disease. Aggressive periodontitis can adversely affect the healthy development of first molars and incisors.

During puberty, hormonal changes place teens at greater risk for periodontal disease. Increased hormonal levels cause increased blood circulation to the gums, leading to gum sensitivity. This causes higher susceptibility to any irritation with the gums being swollen, red and tender. Gum disease in teens can evolve into inflammation of the gums and plaque build-up. Typical signs include bleeding gums while brushing, puffy and sore gums, seeing gum tissue that has pulled away from teeth and persistent bad breath.

It is important that teens be committed to a thorough dental hygiene regimen at home, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups and cleanings. In some cases, a dentist may refer your teen to a Periodontist for treatment to help prevent damage to the tissues and bone surrounding teeth.

Periodontal disease in children and teens can be avoided with good oral care habits. To help your child maintain good oral health, the American Academy of Periodontology advises:
 •Establish good dental hygiene habits early. When your child is one year old, begin using toothpaste when brushing his or her teeth. Begin flossing when the gaps between your child’s teeth close.
    •Be a good role model by having your child watch you during your own dental hygiene regimen.
    •Make sure your child has regular dental checkups, periodontal exams and cleanings.
    •Check your child’s mouth for signs of periodontal disease: bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding from teeth and persistent bad breath.

Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of any stage of periodontal disease. This is another reason why all children should have periodontal exams as part of routine dental visits. If your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, there is also a possibility that he or she is showing early signs of a systemic disease elsewhere in the body. In such cases, a medical evaluation should be arranged for children with severe periodontitis or who show minimal improvement after periodontal therapy.

You can learn more by visiting the web site of the American Academy of Periodontology at Or, call our office at (828) 274-9440.

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