Monday, February 6, 2012

Gum Disease

Do you think gum disease is something that only happens to people your grandparents' age? Think again! Teens can get gum disease too, and it can cause problems from the simply embarrassing (like bad breath) to the serious — like pain and tooth loss (which is both embarrassing and serious!).
What Is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is also known as periodontal (pronounced: per-ee-oh-don-tul) disease.
Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. Untreated gum disease can become very serious, causing teeth to become loose or fall out.
Gum disease is usually caused by a buildup of plaque, an invisible sticky layer of germs that forms naturally on the teeth and gums. Plaque contains bacteria, which produce toxins that irritate and damage the gums.
Hundreds of types of bacteria live in the mouth, so keeping plaque at bay is a constant battle. That's why brushing and flossing every day — and regular trips to the dentist — are so important.

Who Is at Risk?

Certain things can make teens more likely to develop gum disease. Some may inherit this tendency from their parents. The snacks you eat also can put you at risk of developing gum disease — especially if you grab fries and a soda in the mall after school and aren't able to brush immediately after eating them. You probably know that sugar is bad for your teeth, but you may not know that starchy foods like fries also feed the acids that eat into your tooth enamel.