Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease in Children

Frequently Asked Questions About Gum Disease in Children
Posted on 08/02/2022
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Many people think of gum disease as a problem that afflicts adults. While grownups can indeed struggle with the health of their gums, children can also develop the pain, bleeding, swelling, and other symptoms of gum disease. Fortunately, smart preventative strategies and timely treatment can turn this destructive trend around.

The more you understand about the causes, symptoms, treatment, and prevention of gum disease in children, the more effectively you can help your little one enjoy optimal oral health and retain a full set of teeth. Bring yourself up to speed on the subject by examining the answers to these frequently asked questions.

Why Do Children Suffer From Gum Disease?

Bacteria cause gum disease in both children and adults by triggering an inflammatory response in the body. Over time, this inflammation can damage the gum tissues that surround the teeth. As the gums recede from the teeth and the ligaments that hold the teeth in place weaken, tooth loss can eventually result.

Plaque serves as a natural food source for destructive oral bacteria. Poor dental hygiene, therefore, counts as a primary cause of gum disease in children. However, kids and adults can also transfer oral bacteria among themselves by sharing food, eating or drinking utensils, or toothbrushes.

Diabetes, bruxism (tooth grinding), and autoimmune conditions can make some kids more vulnerable to gum disease. As children reach puberty, changes in their hormonal balance may also promote gum disease. Moreover, teens who succumb to peer pressure by experimenting with tobacco products raise their risk for gum disease.

How Do You Recognize Gum Disease?

The early stage of gum disease, gingivitis, produces noticeable changes in the gum tissue. Your child's gums may appear enlarged, red, and puffy. The gums may expose more of the tooth or bleed when your child brushes or flosses. Bad breath can accompany these symptoms.

Most children will experience only this primary phase of gum disease. As kids near adolescence, however, their untreated gingivitis can turn into a more severe condition called aggressive periodontitis that causes jawbone loss near the incisors and molars, even if little or no plaque has gathered in those areas.

Generalized periodontitis can cause jawbone loss throughout the oral cavity. This form of periodontitis tends to occur alongside large accumulations of plaque. As more and more bone disappears, the teeth grow loose in their sockets until they finally fall out.

How Do Pediatric Dentists Protect Kids Against Gum Disease?

Pediatric dentists understand the particular challenges that can increase the risk of gum disease in kids, from the sugary treats they love to indulge in to the hormonal and lifestyle changes that can pose a fresh set of risk factors. Regular dental exams can alert your child's dentist to gum disease in time to reverse the process.

These exams will also include professional cleaning that removes tartar, the hardened form of plaque that toothbrushes and floss can't get rid of. If your child's teeth collect excessive plaque, the dentist may issue instructions on how to brush and floss more effectively, which will enable your child to remove the plaque before it hardens into tartar.

Treatment for childhood gum disease depends on the disease's severity. A professional cleaning can often help gingivitis resolve itself. Periodontitis may require a more aggressive cleaning called scaling and root planing. The dentist may prescribe oral antibiotics or apply antibiotic gels between the gums and the teeth.

Only the most advanced cases of periodontitis require surgery. In these situations, the dentist may make an incision in the gums to treat the infected bone beneath. Another procedure called gingival grafting can help restore gums that have receded and exposed the roots of the teeth.

What Can You Do to Safeguard Your Child's Gums?

You don't have to wait for your child's next dental appointment to fight the good fight against gum disease. In addition to scheduling those regular visits, you should make sure your child brushes and flosses at least twice a day. Inspect your child's gums from time to time for any signs of redness, swelling, or bleeding.

Even a regular brushing routine won't prevent gum disease if kids brush incorrectly. Equip your child with an angled toothbrush small enough to reach all the way to the back of the mouth. Watch younger children brush to make sure they know how to do it thoroughly and properly.

A healthy diet can also lower your child's gum disease risk. Minimize your servings of starchy or sugary foods, both at mealtimes and when you dispense snacks. Make a rule that your child cannot have any snacks after the final tooth brushing of the day, whether that brushing takes place right after dinner or at bedtime.

Dentistry for Children & Adolescents can help young kids and teens maintain higher standards of dental and oral health through regular exams, cleanings, and treatment as needed for any gum problems that might occur. Contact our dental office today to learn more and schedule an evaluation.

DentistryforChildren&Adolescents

Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

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