People often think of gum disease as being an adult disease but unfortunately this isn’t true and it’s perfectly possible for children to develop this condition. A kid can develop chronic gingivitis or more advanced periodontitis and if not promptly treated this can cause a significant amount of destruction to their teeth, gums and to the bone surrounding their teeth.
A child who has chronic gingivitis will often have gum tissue that looks red and swollen, and which will bleed very easily particularly when brushed or flossed. This condition is very treatable by ensuring your kid has a professional clean and a thorough checkup with their pediatric dentist. Maintaining good oral health will prevent gingivitis from recurring. Without proper dental care, chronic gingivitis will eventually develop into a more serious form of periodontal disease called periodontitis.
This condition can develop in older children and in teenagers who are otherwise healthy. It tends to affect the incisors and first molars and unfortunately can result in a substantial loss of alveolar bone. This is a special type of bone that surrounds the teeth and which helps hold them firmly in place. With this form of periodontitis sufferers tend to have very little dental plaque or calculus which is a hardened form of plaque. This form of periodontitis is quite localized but that isn’t always the case with this disease.
Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis
This form of periodontitis may begin around puberty and isn’t just limited to certain teeth as the whole mouth is affected. With this condition, kids will have lots of plaque and calculus and their gums will be severely inflamed. Without treatment they are at risk of losing teeth.
So What Are the Symptoms to Look out For?
Bleeding gums are one very common symptom and this might occur during brushing or flossing or at other times as well. Gums may look as if they have pulled away from the teeth and sometimes the roots of the teeth may be exposed. The gum tissue itself may be swollen or bright red. In addition you may notice your kid has persistent bad breath.
Good oral hygiene is important at any age, but particularly around puberty and especially in girls as the increase levels of hormones such as progesterone and estrogen can increase the risk of periodontal disease. This is because hormones affect the way the gums react to plaque and as a result they may become inflamed more quickly.
What to Do If You Think Your Kid May Have Periodontal Disease
If your kid regularly visits our dental office, then any symptoms will be picked up very quickly as we do look out for signs of this disease. If it’s been a while since they have visited a pediatric dentist then now might be a good time to book a checkup. It’s important to get an early diagnosis to help prevent any permanent damage to their teeth and gums. Chronic gingivitis and other gum diseases are perfectly preventable with good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups and cleanings. Our pediatric dentists can work with your kid to teach them the best way to look after their teeth and gums at home.