As children hit puberty, their hormones change. As well as preparing your child for adulthood, puberty hormones may bring physical problems as well as the mental torture you have to endure while your child's behaviour changes.
For example, some teenagers experience problems with their gums when their hormones surge. This may be a particular problem for girls. Sex hormones such as progesterone and oestrogen may change the way blood circulates in the gums, possibly increasing gum sensitivity. Hormones may also affect the amount of bacteria in the mouth. If your teenager has a blasé attitude to dental hygiene, the gums may become swollen, inflamed and even infected. How can you get your puberty-monster on side in the fight to avoid gum problems?
Hand Over Responsibility
Telling teenagers that they have to brush their teeth twice a day doesn't mean that they'll do what you say. You also can't necessarily stand over teenagers to make sure that they clean their teeth correctly. At this age, kids start to assert their independence more and want to do things for themselves.
Rather than lecturing your child on the evils of lax oral hygiene, the best approach may be to put the ball in their court. Explain how changing hormones might affect the gums and go through the symptoms to look out for such as swollen gums, tender areas and bleeding when brushing. Teenagers often don't think that anything bad will happen to them; if they do notice these symptoms, they may be worried enough to talk to you about it or to up the ante with their oral hygiene routine.
Let Your Dentist Take the Strain
Regular dental check-ups can really help keep gum problems in check. It's important that you schedule check-ups for your child every six months, or as recommended by your dentist, and that you go with them to the appointments. Your child may not be happy with this; however, you should make it a non-negotiable issue.
If your child does develop gum problems, your dentist (like those at Shellharbour City Dental) will be able to spot them. In the early stages, your dentist can give your child advice on how to sort out the problem; if your child has more serious issues, early treatment can help prevent things getting worse.
For example, if your child is not maintaining a good level of dental hygiene and has some gum issues, your dentist may be able to tell them on how to improve the situation. Typically, teenagers may be more likely to listen to your dentist than you. Irritating as this may be, advice or a lecture from a dentist may get your teenager back on track far more easily than you can.
There are other ways you can help your teenager avoid gum disease problems without nagging or making it obvious. For example, the following tips may help:
- Keep a subtle eye on your child's gums. While you probably can't get your child to let you formally examine their gums, you can take a sneaky look at them if they ever crack a smile. Gums should be pink; if they look red or swollen, you may want to schedule a dentist's appointment.
- Buy a supply of sugar-free chewing gum that contains xylitol and encourage your child to chew gum after meals and snacks. Gums that contain xylitol can help counteract the harmful bacteria in your mouth and may help keep it free from decay and gum disease.
- Make sure that the food and drink you have at home is tooth-friendly. Avoid supplying acidic fizzy sodas and juices and sugar-laden snacks that may damage teeth and gums.