Gingivitis can have more than one first-sign, but it's often an easy condition to detect in your children. You may notice red and swollen gums, whereas spitting out a little blood when rinsing at the sink can also throw up a "red" flag. Gingivitis is gum disease, and it's caused by plaque – the same substance that causes tooth decay. Curing gingivitis is usually straightforward, and a great opportunity for teaching your children about good oral health habits.
Changing the snacks your children eat, and when they eat them, can reduce gingivitis symptoms. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests cheese, vegetables and yogurt as some snacks that are good for you and should be given at least three times a day for proper nutrition as well as other healthy choices. Peanut butter is also a tasty but healthy, filling food. In addition, save sugary or starchy foods such as potato chips, bread and pretzels for mealtimes. Foods that are high in starch feed the bacteria that create plaque and take longer to clear out of the mouth.
Regular, thorough toothbrushing and flossing are essential for curing gingivitis. The best times to brush are after breakfast and before going to bed, according to Kids Health. Children aged five and older can brush their own teeth and gums with adult supervision, but below that age, they don't have the necessary skills to go solo just yet. It's up to Mom or Dad to do it for them, using a toothbrush with soft, round-ended bristles and gently brushing the gums and the teeth. Infants often just need damp gauze applied to wipe their gums until their initial baby teeth come in.
In addition to toothbrushing, flossing once a day is important to reach the plaque that builds up against the gums and tooth surfaces between the teeth. To floss your children's teeth, use a piece about 18 inches long and wind the ends around each middle finger. Insert the floss carefully between the teeth, creating a 'C' shape. Move the floss up and down, slipping it gently beneath the gums to remove any plaque and leftover food. Use a clean area of floss between each two tooth. When your children reach the age of 10, they should be able to floss effectively themselves.
Tweens and teens don't need their parents to brush their teeth for them, but you can encourage good oral health habits by being a positive role model. According to Newnan Dentistry, six out of 10 teenagers suffer from gingivitis, and the American Academy of Peridontology advises parents to practice good dental hygiene themselves and encourage good oral hygiene practices with their children to reduce and eliminate gingivitis. You can also encourage them to brush by providing products designed for their age range, such as Colgate® Fresh 'n Protect Toothpaste™, which is aimed at eight- to 12-year-olds.
Dental hygienists perform professional cleanings that can help to reverse gingivitis. Your dentist might suggest this visit to the dental hygienist during a regular checkup, or you could request a special appointment if you feel that your child's gingivitis is severe. During the visit, the dental hygienist will remove plaque with an appropriate set of scaling tools and polish them with a special stain removing paste. This professional cleaning removes plaque buildup on your children's teeth and gums and helps to improve oral hygiene across the board. Then your child can perform good oral hygiene habits at home with proper flossing and toothbrushing to continue to improve the health of their gums.
Moisturizing a Dry Mouth
Dry mouth can cause gums to bleed around the upper teeth. Kids with blocked nasal passages, or who breathe through their mouths while sleeping, can develop dry mouth and gums that are prone to bleeding. Why? Saliva helps wash away hidden bacteria that irritates the gums over time. Smearing a thin layer of petroleum jelly over the lips and having a glass of water at night helps keep the mouth moist.
With consistent homecare, according to Mayo Clinic, gums should resemble their normal pink state in a matter of weeks, if not several days. But if an improved diet and regular brushing and flossing don't improve your children's gingivitis, pay your dentist a visit. He can discuss the problem and rule out more serious causes. When your kids' gums are firm and healthy again, continue the good work to set them up for a disease-free mouth for life.