Jan 04 2023

Pediatric Dentist Discusses Puberty and Oral Health

Teenagers at the beach

If you are the parent of a preteen or teen, you are likely looking ahead to puberty and the many physical and emotional changes it will bring. But one thing you may not anticipate is the impact of puberty on oral health. That is why your pediatric dentist is such an indispensable part of your teen’s journey.

At Smiles Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Matt and his Overland Park, KS, team offer dental care for kids of all ages, including teenagers. If your child is approaching puberty, it is all the more essential that he or she receive regular care from the dentist. Hormones cause some unexpected challenges. And teens have other oral health needs, such as the eruption of wisdom teeth, that should be addressed.

To schedule an appointment for your teen or preteen, contact Smiles Dentistry for Kids today.

Puberty: What to Expect

Not only does puberty affect boys and girls differently; it also affects them on a different timeline. Girls typically start puberty between the ages of 7 and 13, while boys usually begin between the ages of 9 and 15. However, recent studies show that the average age of a girl’s first period is steadily trending downward.

Whenever puberty hits, the brain releases the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (or GnRH). In turn, GnRH stimulates the production of two additional hormones, the lutenizing hormone (LH) and the follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH). In boys, these hormones signal the body to begin producing testosterone and sperm. In girls, they signal the production of estrogen.

The increasing hormones cause numerous physical changes. These include growth, weight gain, and hair growth. Boys will experience a deepening of the voice, while girls will begin menstruating. 

Hormones and Gum Tissue

As if all these changes weren’t enough, hormones can also lead to a condition known as puberty gingivitis. Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease, but it is fortunately reversible with proper care. When adolescents enter puberty, the increasing sex hormones can send extra blood to the gums, leading to sensitivity and bleeding. 

Furthermore, one four-year study found that both boys and girls between the ages of 11 and 14 were more prone to develop a buildup of the oral bacteria that lead to gum disease.

Girls are likely to be even more affected by these changes, since monthly hormone fluctuations can have similar effects on the gums. 

Preventing Puberty Gingivitis

Despite the studies, puberty gingivitis is not inevitable. Proper oral hygiene can protect your teen’s gums, even when hormones are raging. Unfortunately, adolescents are at a higher risk for gingivitis when they are also starting to become more independent. Without supervision, preteens and teens may neglect their dental health, not only increasing the likelihood of gum disease but also of tooth decay and infection. 

As your child approaches puberty, make sure that you discuss the importance of daily dental care. Review proper brushing and flossing techniques, and be sure to schedule an appointment with your pediatric dentist. Dr. Matt and his team can also provide additional guidance and treatment as your child enters this important time of life.

Contact Your Pediatric Dentist Today

Whether your child is thirteen or thirteen months, we are ready to provide the compassionate care that he or she deserves. Contact our Overland Park, KS, office today. 

Reach us online or give us a call at (913) 685-9990.

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