It would be much more pleasant if gum disease in children was habitual bubble gum chewing. Unfortunately, it's not. While it's more prevalent in adults, teens and younger kids are still at risk for gum disease. The most likely gum disease is gingivitis. The good news is that it's very treatable. And that's something worth smiling about. Sans bubble gum, that is.
Gum Disease Treatment For Kids
Before we diagnose and treat it, let's break down what gum disease is first. When bacteria, the bad kind, and food debris and sugar build up on your teeth and gums, they create a sticky film known as plaque. We don't like plaque. Why? Because when it builds up, it can lead to swollen, inflamed, and bleeding gums. And if it gets worse — it can loosen teeth and damage the soft tissue underneath them. That's a more severe form of gum disease. Children are more likely to develop the milder cousin, gingivitis.
There are a variety of gum disease symptoms your child could be experiencing. Those include:
- Red, swollen, sore gums
- Bleeding from brushing or flossing
- Receding gums from the teeth
- Loose or separating teeth with abnormal spacing
- Recurring bad breath
- Pus between the teeth and gums
- Bite and/or jaw alignment change
The first two symptoms are prevalent in gingivitis. The remaining symptoms could appear should the gum disease progress and remain untreated. But we're not going to let that happen.
As we've already stated, gum disease's primary cause in children is plaque and allowing it to build up with little to no proper dental hygiene. Other factors could increase the risk of gum disease with your child. Those other causes could include:
- Certain genes
- Food stuck in the gums
- Mouth breathing that dries out your front gums and teeth
- Poor diet
- Smoking and using smokeless tobacco
- Autoimmune or systemic diseases
- Hormonal changes in the body, like puberty
- Repeated and uncontrollable clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Medicine that can overgrow your gums
This isn't rocket science, parents. It's dental care. And the best way to treat and prevent gum disease is quite simple — good oral care. That includes:
- Brushing with an appropriately sized toothbrush twice a day
- Using fluoride toothpaste when brushing
- Flossing and mouthwash daily
- Eating healthier foods that are low in sugar and starch
- Seeing the dentist twice a year for their regular checkups
If they already have a gum disease that's progressed, it's possible, though unlikely, that antibiotics or surgery is necessary. Thus, it's all the more important to start an oral care routine with your child as early as possible, from baby to teenager. Practice will perfect the process.
While your child may sneak a candy bar or soda or miss brushing here and there — sticking to their oral hygiene routine is imperative. It protects against cavities, minor gum disease, or even worse. Start it when they're a baby. Have them get more involved as a toddler. Then put the responsibility on them while you monitor them morning and night. It will be worth it as they avoid gum disease and flash a healthy and happy smile. After they spit out that gum, of course.
This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.