When you hear gum disease or periodontal disease, you may think it’s a disease that only affects older adults! Maybe you’ve heard from the CDC that 70.1% of adults 65 years or older have gum disease so you think you shouldn’t have to worry about it at your young age.
Unfortunately, young adults (18 to 30 years old) are absolutely at risk of developing gum disease. During your early adult years, if you don’t commit to a strong oral hygiene routine, you could be causing irreversible damage to your gums and underlying jawbone!
So how does gum disease develop?
Gum disease develops when plaque, food particles, and bacteria build up beneath your gum line. As bacteria continues to build up, it forms pockets of infection between your gums and tooth roots. These pockets are essentially bacteria reserves. Without proper care and treatment, your gum infection will progress – the pockets grow larger and the periodontal tissues start to deteriorate, causing the gums to recede from your teeth and expose your tooth roots.
As gum disease advances into the later stages, your teeth start to loosen from their place as supporting periodontal tissues wither away. Gums recede drastically. The jawbones start to deteriorate as the infection penetrates deeper into the bone. Teeth even begin to fall out in the advanced stage of gum disease – periodontitis. In fact, the leading cause of tooth loss is actually gum disease!
As gum disease advances it becomes irreversible and treatments such as periodontal regeneration surgery, dental implants, and periodontal pocket (flap and osseous) surgery become necessary to replace damaged tissues and teeth. This is why it’s so important to stop gum disease before it begins or progresses!
What are the risk factors of gum disease?
Young adults can develop gum disease for a number of reasons, but poor hygiene habits are at the top of the list! Most risk factors of gum disease are preventable so it’s important to be aware of them. Here’s just a few of the risk factors of gum disease in young adults:
- Poor oral hygiene
- Poor nutrition
- Genetics (yes, gum disease is hereditary!)
How can I prevent gum disease?
The best way to prevent gum disease as a young adult is to build a strong oral hygiene routine – simply brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily can go a long way!
When your gums become increasingly sensitive, it’s a sign that they’re irritated and vulnerable to the first stage of gum disease, gingivitis. If you notice your gums turning bright red, swelling, or bleeding when you brush or floss, it’s time to kick your oral hygiene habits into overdrive!
- Keep a travel-sized toothbrush with you to brush your teeth after meals. This will prevent plaque and food particles from building up under your gum line.
- Kick poor habits! Smoking, chewing tobacco, and vaping can restrict blood flow to your gums making them susceptible to infection.
- Don’t go to sleep without brushing and flossing your teeth.
- Eat a balanced diet and avoid overloading on sugary, sweet, and sticky foods.
- Visit your dentist for a professional cleaning every 6 months.
Still have questions about gum disease in young adults?
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to us with any questions. We’re here to support you and your gums!
Gum disease is a serious matter and the best time to start preventative care is as a young adult. Check out these resources to learn more about the stages of periodontal disease and gets tips on how to develop the ultimate oral hygiene routine for your smile.