Oral health is an important part of your child’s overall health, it is critical to address any conditions immediately with your child’s dentist. Gum disease can affect kids of any age and should be quickly addressed in order to prevent the development of further problems.
We’ve complied a quick guide to identifying, preventing, and treating gum disease in children.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the tissues in the mouth.
Although gum disease is more common in adults, kids are most commonly affected by gum disease in its mildest form, called gingivitis.
Symptoms of gum disease primarily manifest in the gums, although some effects on the teeth may be present.
What does gum disease in children look like?
In children, the symptoms of gum disease include:
- Bleeding gums
- Discolored gums (healthy gums are pink)
- Swollen gums
- Tender gums
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums
- Overbite or underbite
- Pain when chewing
These symptoms often worsen when your child brushes their teeth. For example, bleeding in the gums can temporarily occur during a brushing session.
What are the reasons for gum disease in children?
Although genetics plays a part, the most common cause of gum disease in children is poor oral hygiene. The development of gum disease begins with plaque – a sticky film that forms on the teeth as a result of oral bacteria and food particles. Plaque forms quickly and can harden under the gumline (becoming tartar) if not removed with proper daily brushing. Plaque and tartar can cause significant damage to the teeth and gums if not addressed, and the formation of tartar under the gums requires a professional dental cleaning.
Risk factors for gum disease in children include:
- Vitamin deficiencies
- Hormonal changes
- Certain medications
- Conditions that decrease immunity (such as leukemia)
- Poor oral hygiene
How can parents help manage gum disease in children?
Thankfully, mild gum disease (gingivitis) is reversible and there is a lot that parents can do to support their child’s oral health. A regular routine of brushing, flossing, and dental visits can help prevent and treat gum disease in kids.
Later stages of gum disease become periodontitis and often require significant professional intervention to treat. If left untreated, tissue and bone loss can occur, and the infection can damage your overall health, affecting other parts of the body.
If you suspect your child may have gum disease or have any questions about their oral health, give your family dentist a call or contact us today to speak with one of our pediatricians in Littleton!