Millennials are now the largest generational cohort in America. They include everyone from young adults graduating from college to CEOs of Fortune 500 companies to parents leading PTA meetings. They also, unfortunately, include adults dealing with more serious oral health issues, possibly for the first time. In our Oral Hygiene Tips blog series, we’re examining the oral health risks and healthy practices of different generations. Our Hudsonville family dentists have helped patients of all ages achieve healthier smiles. Previously, we’ve looked at oral hygiene tips for children as well as preteens and teenagers. Now, let’s take a look at the state of oral health for the millennial generation (ages 25-40, for our purposes). Oral Health Risks for Your 20s and 30s In general, there are two major oral health risks to keep an eye on as you enter your twenties and thirties: \tGum disease \tStress-related oral health issues Gum Disease Periodontal disease (also known as gum disease) can strike at any age, but it becomes particularly prevalent at this stage of life. In fact, nearly half of all adults ages 30 and older have some form of periodontal disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Specifically, you’ll want to watch out for gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease. If you start experiencing signs of gingivitis, schedule an appointment with our dentists. That way, we can treat your gum disease in its early stages while it’s still reversible. Later stages of gum disease can’t be cured, only managed. Symptoms of gingivitis include: \tSwollen or puffy gums \tRedder or darker gums \tTender gums that bleed easily \tReceding gums \tBad breath Stress-Related Oral Health Concerns Adulthood can be stressful. Many new experiences often happen in your twenties and thirties: getting a new job, moving to a new city, making a career switch, buying a new home, starting a new relationship, taking on a new role as a parent, etc. Even good things can cause stress, and stress can impact the body in ways you might not expect: for example, your teeth. Even if you didn’t grind your teeth at night as a child, you may pick up the habit during this life stage. Teeth grinding and clenching (also known as bruxism) can cause damage to your teeth as well as pain in your jaw, neck, face, or ears. A custom-made night guard can alleviate the damage this stress response may cause to your oral health. Night guards allow patients with stress to sleep soundly without hurting their teeth. Beyond bruxism, there are other dental health concerns connected to stress. For example, stress can contribute in part to TMJ disorder, a condition in which your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is in pain or even locked in place. Nighttime teeth grinding can lead to issues with your TMJ, and vice-versa. Adulthood is the perfect time to learn healthier coping mechanisms for stress than what you may have practiced as a teenager. Managing your stress in a healthy way may even prevent a dental emergency in the long run. Healthy Oral Hygiene for Millennials Keeping these risks in mind, how can you protect your oral health moving forward? Here are some good oral hygiene habits you can start practicing now: \tBrush and floss: Two of the easiest things you can do to prevent gum disease are brushing for two minutes twice a day and flossing daily. This should be the foundation of any good oral hygiene routine. \tGet your teeth professionally cleaned: Schedule a professional teeth cleaning with our dentists every six months. This way, we can remove any plaque and tartar that your brushing and flossing missed, protecting you from both tooth decay and gum disease. Also, we can keep an eye on your oral health and alert you to any problems that may be just beginning. \tWear any necessary oral appliances: Our dentists offer multiple oral appliances to solve oral health problems for our patients, but they only work if you wear them. That means if you have a night guard, make sure to put it in every night before you fall asleep. If you wore braces as a child, continue wearing your retainer to protect your straight, healthy smile. If you’re currently straightening your smile with Invisalign®, be sure to wear your clear aligners for at least 20 hours a day. Protect Your Oral Health With Adult Dentistry Our Hudsonville, MI, family dentists can help you adopt healthy oral hygiene habits to protect your smile as an adult. Call Hudsonville Dental today at (616) 209-4024, or contact us online to schedule an appointment.