Most people associate gum disease with adults, but unfortunately, children and teens are also at risk of gum disease. If children are not encouraged to practice good oral hygiene habits, they can begin to show signs of gum disease at any age.
Gum disease is serious enough for adults, but when children get gum disease, it can cause serious problems with the growth and development of both their baby teeth and permanent adult teeth. This mini-guide will help you have a better understanding of gum disease in children.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a bacterial infection that occurs when the gum tissues become inflamed and infected. The infection can spread to the tissues and bone that hold the teeth in place.
As the disease progresses, pockets begin to form in the gums, which harbor more bacteria and increase the infection. This infection can become so severe that it begins to spread through the body, which can cause serious health conditions, including heart disease and stroke.
Causes of Gum Disease
The most common cause of gum disease in kids is improper tooth care. There is also a risk of gum disease in babies who go to sleep with a bottle of juice or formula. Teenagers who get out of their childhood dental regimen are also at risk of developing gum disease.
Some studies suggest that gum disease may be genetic. Other health conditions, such as Type 1 diabetes or Downs Syndrome may also increase the risk of developing gum disease.
Signs of Gum Disease
The signs of gum disease in children are the same as they are in adults. The earliest signs of gum disease include bleeding gums after flossing or brushing and/or red and swollen gums. In advanced stages of the disease, the gums begin pulling away from the teeth and you may notice persistent bad breath in your child.
How to Prevent Gum Disease
The first and most important step in preventing gum disease is regular dental visits. Children should have their first dental exam soon after their first tooth comes in. It is important to brush your child’s teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and child safe toothpaste. Your dentist will be able to recommend the best type of toothpaste to use according to the age of the child.
Routinely check your child’s mouth for signs of gum disease, and if anyone in your family has periodontal disease, it is important to visit your dentist for a screening as soon as possible.
If you suspect your child may have gum disease, it is essential that you schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible. The longer gum disease goes untreated, the more damage it will do to the mouth, teeth and gums. If your child has not gotten his or her first tooth yet, talk with your dentist for suggestions on how to clean your child’s mouth and gums.
Contact us as soon as possible to schedule an appointment for your child's dental exam. Wright Smiles Pediatric Dentistry is now accepting new patients, so this is the perfect time to schedule an appointment to learn more information about your child oral health needs.