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Specific oral health concerns may pester millennials

The second and third decades of life, currently the domain of the generation known as millennials or Generation Y, can bring particular oral health concerns. But there are effective strategies to combat these problems and maintain good oral health.

While millennials who practice good oral hygiene may largely enjoy healthy teeth and gums, sensitivity, teeth grinding, temporomandibular joints disorder and gum disease are some of the problems that may crop up in this stage of life. Potential problems to watch for may include:

  • Bothersome sensitivity—to cold liquids and foods, for instance—may begin to occur. The unpleasant reaction may be linked to such specific causes as tooth decay, fractures, worn fillings or tooth enamel, exposed root or gum disease. Dentists can treat sensitivity, which may be as simple as switching to desensitizing toothpaste or may require other treatment based on the cause.
  • Teeth grinding is common in children, but also may plague adults. In adults, the cause is often stress. Sufferers may experience headaches, jaw soreness and other symptoms. A mouthguard prescribed and fitted by a dentist may afford protection. Otherwise, a dentist may offer other solutions depending upon the severity of the problem.
  • Temporomandibular joint disorder, also called TMJ or TMD disorder, is a painful condition of the jaw and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and jaw movement. TMJ can be related to teeth grinding from stress, for one. But it can also have other origins, including ones that are unclear. A dentist can treat TMJ, perhaps with exercise, drugs or other approaches.
  • Gum disease can rear its ugly head at the gumline and work its way down to the tissue and bone surrounding teeth, where it becomes most destructive. Caused by plaque, gum disease's first stage is gingivitis, inflammation of the tissue that holds teeth in place. At the disease's most severe state, periodontitis, the sufferer begins to be at risk for losing teeth and supporting bone. Because it's possible to have gum disease and not know it, it is imperative to keep regular dental appointments as prescribed by a dentist.

The American Dental Association has oral health care resources specific to life stages on its consumer website  For information about oral health care for millennials, visit

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

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