Even if your child seems otherwise healthy, it’s possible that there’s an infection lurking along their gums.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
And while it’s pretty rare to see a child suffering from periodontitis — a more aggressive form of gum disease — gingivitis can advance into periodontitis without proper treatment. In fact, it’s not unusual for aggressive periodontitis to be found in teenagers and young adults!
But there is some good news: in its early stages, gum disease can be cured! Regular brushing and flossing help, but the best way to help your child prevent and fight gum disease is to partner with a pediatric dentist like Dr. Rooklidge and the other dental professionals at Dentistry for Children!
We have three offices just south of Salt Lake City, UT:
In the meantime, read on to learn more about gum disease, as well as ways Dentistry for Children can help!
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease is an infection of the gums. When food particles aren’t sufficiently cleared from your child’s mouth — say, with proper brushing and flossing — that debris becomes a smorgasbord for bacteria. Bacteria will feed on those sugars and produce a weak acid as a result.
When that acid eats away at enamel, it’s called tooth decay. When it irritates and deteriorates the gums, it’s called gum disease.
There are some things that increase the likelihood of gum disease, such as certain conditions — like diabetes or cancer — and some medications. Unfortunately, hormonal changes can also make your child more susceptible to gum disease, so it’s especially important to watch for signs of gum disease during puberty.
What Are The Signs Of Gum Disease?
In its early stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. The biggest indicator of early gum disease is reddened or tender gums. When bacterial buildup causes an infection, the body’s response is to increase blood flow to the area. That’s why the gums will take on this inflamed appearance.
Your child might also experience:
- Gums that bleed during and after brushing or flossing. Proper hygiene shouldn’t cause your gums to bleed!
- Bad breath or bad taste in their mouth. Bacterial buildup can produce a foul odor or unpleasant taste.
- Receding gums. In severe cases of gum disease, the gumline can begin to pull away from the teeth.
- Changes in your child’s bite or teeth alignment. This is more likely to occur in severe cases of periodontitis.
Unfortunately, some people don’t notice any symptoms until gum disease is severe! That’s why it’s so important to regularly visit the dentist. Routine checkups and cleanings will remove infection-causing bacteria but also make sure that if your child does have gum disease, it’ll be treated promptly.
In teens, aggressive periodontitis usually affects molars and incisors first. Oddly enough, young people affected by aggressive periodontitis often don’t have the excessive plaque buildup you might expect. Instead, it’s marked by loss of the alveolar bone, which is the bone that keeps your teeth in place. As a result, teeth can become loose.
How Is Gum Disease Treated?
When gum disease is caught early, usually all you need is a deep cleaning to eradicate the infection.
When you bring your little one to Dentistry for Children, we’ll do a thorough cleaning of your child’s teeth and gums. For more serious cases, particularly those involving gum recession, we may refer you to a periodontist.
How Can I Help My Child Prevent Gum Disease?
Of course, proper brushing and flossing play an important role in the prevention of gum disease. The American Dental Association recommends that both kids and adults brush twice a day for two minutes each time, using a soft-bristle toothbrush. For kids under the age of 3 years old, you only need to use a smear of toothpaste the size of a grain of rice. For kids older than 3 years old, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
You should also help your child floss once a day. As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you can begin cleaning between them with dental floss.
Here are some other ways you can help:
- Set a good example. Make sure you’re flossing every day!
- Check your child’s mouth. Now that you’re familiar with some of the symptoms, you can help spot signs of gingivitis.
- Schedule routine checkups with your pediatric dentist. Your dentist will be able to diagnose and quickly treat gum disease if you’re child exhibits its symptoms!
And if you’re looking for a kid-friendly team of dental professionals to take care of your little one, consider Dentistry for Children! We’ll make sure your child’s gums stay healthy for years to come.
Call any of our three convenient locations to schedule an appointment. You can also use our online form.