Gingivitis is the earliest form of periodontal (gum) disease, and according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), it is reversible with proper treatment. However, severe gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which will require much more diligent management. Kids are at just as much risk of developing gingivitis as their parents, but certain scenarios increase the condition's potential in your kids.
Spotting the Signs of Gingivitis
Gingivitis, which is caused by irritating oral bacteria in plaque, produces symptoms that are easy to miss if you are not paying attention. The American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) states that those with gingivitis may not even feel pain in the gums at this stage, but gum tissues are typically red and swollen, rather than pink and firm. Bleeding gums is another symptom, and even isolated instances of oral bleeding can suggest that a problem is brewing.
Why Gingivitis Is Common in Childhood?
When your children were toddlers, you may have let them brush and floss on their own and then finished the job for them if they missed any spots. But as any parent knows, children are less likely to accept the help of parents as they grow and assert their independence. Therefore, the oral health habits that prevent gingivitis should be instilled when a child's first teeth erupt. Although some kids are thorough enough in their efforts to remove plaque from their teeth and gums, others will skip flossing and only give their teeth a cursory pass with the toothbrush if they can get away with it. If your children are in the latter category, continue to supervise their oral hygiene routines until they've adopted good habits.
Gingivitis During Puberty
The AAP also states that the hormonal changes during puberty place your teen at a higher risk of severe gingivitis. Puberty hormones lead to increased blood circulation, making the gums prone to swelling and sensitivity. Even small amounts of plaque can irritate the gums during this major hormonal shift, so a vigilant oral hygiene regimen is the best way for your teen to keep gum irritation at bay. Daily flossing is critical, and you may want to consider the use of special toothpastes which helps to reduce plaque and gingivitis. Kids at this age may also need to undergo dental cleanings more frequently than every six months, so consult your dental professional for their recommendation.
Severe gingivitis is just one step away from a chronic condition that requires frequent and costly dental procedures. Help your children prevent gingivitis by teaching them proper brushing and flossing habits early on and taking them for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Also encourage them to assume responsibility for their oral health by detecting and reporting symptoms at the earliest stages when they can be treated conservatively. Taking ownership of their oral and overall health now is a habit that will serve your children for life.