As Generation Z embarks on their journey into adulthood, one crucial aspect of their health that can sometimes be overlooked is their gums.

With the rise of sugary diets and increased stress and anxiety levels, teenagers and young adults are increasingly susceptible to gum disease and other oral problems. This is the topic of Gum Health Day 2024, an annual, global public health campaign led by the EFP (European Federation of Periodontology).

Launched 10 years ago, Gum Health Day aims to inform the general public about the detrimental effects of gum diseases (gingivitis, periodontitis, peri-implant mucositis, and peri-implantitis) on both oral and general health, and the advantages of keeping their gums healthy from a young age.

Mia Rakic, Gum Health Day 2024 co-ordinator, explains, “We felt that we needed to target Gum Health Day 2024 at young people, as they are not necessarily aware of the role played by their gum health in their overall health, so they may feel less concerned about them.”

Gum diseases are associated with major systemic health issues including diabetes, myocardial infarction, heart failure, stroke, chronic kidney disease, adverse pregnancy outcomes, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, erectile dysfunction, certain forms of cancer, and other systemic diseases. By taking care of our gums, we all can easily start preventing those problems right away – as a healthy smile can pave the way to a healthier lifestyle and save money in the future.

According to a recent white paper published by the Economist Impact called ‘Time to put your money where your mouth is: addressing inequalities in oral health’, oral diseases impact nearly half the world's population, surpassing the burden of most common non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as mental disorders, cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular and chronic respiratory diseases.

Mia added, “This is how we can help Generation Z to recognise the pivotal role their gums play in self-esteem and overall wellbeing. Our campaign aims to inspire young people to lead a positive change in how society views gum health, emphasising its importance beyond oral hygiene, and shed light on the work of periodontists.”