Happy millennials smiling at camera outside on campus at the university.

Dental Care and Millennials: What About You?

As today’s young adults, sometimes called “millennials” and “Generation Y,” enter their 20s and 30s, they may be faced with dental issues. These issues might not have concerned millennials in their youth and they may not even be aware of them now. Those who practice good hygiene – brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and regular professional cleanings – often enjoy healthy teeth and gums. However, some may have already developed teeth sensitivity, morning jaw pain, tenderness of bleeding gums, or so called disease periodontal disease. These conditions often don’t show up until adulthood.

Teeth Sensitivity and Grinding In Millennials

Teeth sensitivity is often linked to the following:

  • Tooth decay
  • Cracked fillings
  • Enamel erosion
  • Worn enamel from clenching
  • Exposed roots
  • Fractures
  • Gum disease

Careful dental evaluation is necessary to determine the cause of an enamel damage and sensitivity. A fix may be as simple as changing a toothpaste or it may be more involved, which is a sign of a more advanced condition.

Teeth grinding of clenching is another very common phenomenon for the Millenial generation. It leads to an uncomfortable and often times painful condition called temporomandibular joints disorder (TMJ). This condition affects facial muscles along the jaw, which control chewing and jaw movement, and can become inflamed and tense.

Teeth grinding or clenching is often caused by stress, drug use, and even bicycling or any intense sports activity. These are three very prevalent factors among millennials. Teeth grinding can cause headaches, enamel wear, jaw pain and other symptoms. Wearing a mouth guard during sleep is a common method to reduce friction. However, physiological factors like jaw alignment or serious enamel wear can sometimes contribute to further complications.

It’s more common than you might think, and can actually require physical therapy or medication to relieve the pain and tension. It is preferable to prevent the problem – rather than wait for difficult treatment of an advanced condition.

Periodontal Disease IN Millennials

Jaw clenching is a contributing factor to bone loss or periodontal disease that affects bone supporting structures around teeth. Periodontal disease affects more than half of adults over the age of 30. Because it is chronic and nonpainful disease many affected adults are not aware they have periodontitis. A variety of clinical presentations of periodontitis and often mild clinical symptoms make it difficult to diagnose it in early stages. It is best to diagnose it early and stop the progression.

Later periodontitis presents itself by receding gums, teeth staining, tartar build-ups, bleeding gums, bad breath, teeth mobility, and teeth migration, and in advanced stages acute gum infections. Those later stages are difficult to treat and there is no cure.

It’s possible to have gum disease and not even know it. Regular dental checkups are essential to preventing a bothersome problem from becoming degenerative, painful – and worst of all, expensive!  By the time periodontitis begins affecting the bone, tooth loss and/or replacement is unavoidable. That loss can cost thousands of dollars per tooth.

Many millennials don’t feel it’s necessary to see a dentist as often as recommended. As an increasing number of young adults enter the work force in the service industry or as freelancers, medical and dental insurance can be difficult to come by.

At the end of the day, preventable diseases can become unmanageable if they’re not addressed in the early stages. Treatment is much less cost effective than prevention. By practicing good oral hygiene and receiving routine check ups and cleanings, you can literally save thousands of dollars every year. Keep all of your original teeth by doing your homework at home and receiving professional evaluation and care at least every six months.


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