Gum disease is also referred to as gingivitis or periodontal disease. When the gums, deep tissues and bones which support the teeth are infected, the condition is known as gingivitis. If left untreated for long, it can eventually lead to loss of tooth or teeth.
Your child’s mouth naturally produces a sticky substance called plaque. If the teeth are not brushed and flossed properly and regularly, this plaque builds up on the teeth. The bacteria in it produce toxins which cause infection in teeth and gums. If ignored, the severity of this infection increases and ultimately, the harmful bacteria break down the tissues and the bones supporting the teeth.
Gingivitis in Children:
Gingivitis and periodontitis are both initial stages of gum disease. Gingivitis is the primary or the mildest form of gum disease and is very common in children. Untreated gingivitis may develop into periodontitis, an extreme form of gum disease. Gingivitis can be reversed before it progresses. Early diagnosis is crucial to the success of its treatment and healing. The following warning signs indicate the presence of gingivitis:
● Gums are swollen and appear red
● Gums feel tender
● Gums bleed easily during or after brushing or flossing
● Gums recede or pull away from teeth
● Loose teeth
● Persistent bad breath
● Any change noticed in the way teeth come together to form a bite
What Are the Causes?
Plaque or decay is the most common culprit which causes gum problems like gingivitis. Other potential causes are as follows:
● Poor oral hygiene
● Teeth grinding
● Hormonal changes
● Deficiency of vitamin C or a diet lacking essential nutrients
● Medical conditions such as systemic or autoimmune diseases and diabetes
● Certain medications
How Can It Be Cured?
Your role as a parent is to ensure that your child gets a comprehensive periodontal examination as a part of his or her regular dental checkup. It should be noted that if your child has an advanced form of periodontal disease, it may be an early sign of systemic disease. A general medical evaluation should be considered for children who suffer from severe periodontitis, especially if the condition appears to be resistant to therapy.
A good oral hygiene routine is the most basic yet the most important preventive step against periodontal disease. Here’s how you can help reduce the risk of gum problems in your child:
● Ensure that your child eats a healthy and wholesome diet. Foods such as vegetables, fruits, cheese, and yogurt are good for teeth. Whereas, sugary, sticky and hard foods and drinks such as soda, candy, bread, potato chips are harmful to teeth as well as gums.
● Regular brushing and flossing are necessary to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Generally, children aged 5 years and above can brush properly without adult supervision. But, children younger than them need adult supervision to ensure that they clean their teeth properly. A toothbrush with soft and round-ended bristles is commonly recommended for small children.
● See to it that your child never misses out on scheduled dental checkups. Regular dental examinations can help in early diagnoses and timely treatment of any oral health issues, thus ensuring that your child’s teeth remain healthy.
● Dental cleanups performed by dental hygienists can help reverse gingivitis. This professional cleaning removes plaque buildup and helps improve oral hygiene.
Don’t delay your child’s first dental visit and ensure that he or she has regular dental checkups. You as a parent can be your child’s role model in maintaining a good oral hygiene routine. Simple steps like these can ensure that your child enjoys healthy teeth and a bright smile for years to come.
About the author:
Grace Clark – Grace is a dental marketer who firmly believes in holistic health and lives by the rule that health and happiness go hand in hand. She works under the guidance of Michael G. Long, a dentist in Fresno, CA, and writes on various dental topics that focus on healthy living and holistic wellness. When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending her time with her family and volunteering at the local youth centers where she educates children about the importance of health and fitness.