Children Get Gum Disease Too!

Surprisingly, chronic gingivitis (selling and bleeding of the gums) is common in children, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. It is both preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and professional care.

Localized aggressive gum disease is found in teenagers and young adults and mostly affects the first molar and incisor teeth. It is characterized by a severe loss of bone supporting the teeth.

Generalized aggressive gum disease can begin around puberty and can involve the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus. Eventually is can cause the teeth to become loose.

Hormonal changes related to puberty can put teens at greater risk for getting periodontal disease. During puberty, an increased level of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen can cause increased blood circulation to the gums. This may cause an increase in the gum’s sensitivity and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles and plaque. During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red, and feel tender.

Early diagnosis is a key to successful treatment and control of gum disease. Therefore, it is important that children receive a comprehensive periodontal (gum disease) examination as part of their routine dental visits. The most important preventative step is to establish good oral health habits with your child. The American Academy of Periodontology recommends the following:

  • Establish good dental hygiene habits early. When your child is 12 months old, you can begin using toothpaste when brushing his or her teeth. When the gaps between your child’s teeth close, it is important to start flossing.
  • Serve as a good roe model by practicing good dental hygiene habits yourself.
  • Schedule regular dental visits for family checkups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.
  • Check your child’s mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth, and bad breath.