Preteens and teenagers sometimes get a very common but not very well-known condition called puberty gingivitis. Like with any form of gingivitis, it can progress to more serious periodontal disease if it's not identified and treated early.
What causes puberty gingivitis?
Puberty gingivitis is most common in preadolescent boys and girls who are between the ages of 11 and 13.
During these years, kids often begin to assert a little more independence. This is when their dietary and oral hygiene habits can go downhill due to reduced parental supervision.
Typically, puberty gingivitis is caused by a combination of poor oral hygiene habits and diet, combined with elevated hormone levels during puberty (which increase gum sensitivity to accumulated dental plaque). Poor nutrition can make it hard for the body to fight off infections, which leaves children at an increased risk of developing gum disease.
Teens who chew tobacco, vape or smoke tend to be more likely to contract gum disease than non-smoking peers.
Being under continuous stress weakens the immune system and increases inflammation. Poor oral health and hygiene combined with high stress levels can cause gum disease to develop over time.
This combination of factors makes gingivitis more of a risk for young people going through puberty than it would be at other times in their lives.
Puberty gingivitis symptoms include bleeding and inflammation of the gums. The gum tissue may also become red, swollen, and less firm to the touch. Bad breath can also be a symptom.
The best "treatment" for puberty gingivitis is prevention!
As your children get older and more independent, they may be less inclined to listen to their parents about maintaining good oral health. Parents must remain firm on this point to prevent gum disease from developing.
Ensure that your pre-teen brushes thoroughly for two full minutes in the morning and again before bed, and flosses carefully at least once a day.
If your child has already developed gingivitis, periodontal therapy at your dentist’s office may help to get it under control. Mouthwashes containing chlorhexidine can be used to control the infection as well. Our Winnipeg dentists will also advise your teen on the correct brushing and flossing techniques for long-term dental health.