Are Children at Risk for Gum Disease?

It is commonly believed that gum disease is a dental problem that only affects adults, but this isn’t entirely true. While gum disease is extremely common amongst adults that doesn’t mean children can’t develop it. Luckily, it is extremely easy to treat if it is caught in its early stages.
Learn more about how gum disease affects children and discover ways you can do to prevent it from happening to your child.
Children are More Likely to Develop Gingivitis
Gum disease is just a general term that is used to describe any inflammation of the gum tissue. There are actually two forms of gum disease: gingivitis and periodontal disease.
Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that is usually caused by irritation from the plaque buildup. It usually causes gum soreness, swelling and redness of the gums, and bleeding. Sometimes, but not always, if left untreated gingivitis can progress into a more serious form of gum disease known as periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a severe form of gum disease that can cause lasting and irreversible damaging to the teeth and gums. When periodontitis develops the gums become so inflamed and swollen that they start to pull away from the teeth and create deep pockets. Harmful bacteria from plaque and food debris can get trapped in those pockets and cause an infection. If left untreated the infection can cause a number of problems ranging from bone loss, tooth loss, and even other serious health problems such as heart attacks and strokes.
It is uncommon for children to develop periodontitis. However, many children exhibit signs and symptoms of gingivitis. Luckily, with a few lifestyle changes and encouraging good oral hygiene practices gingivitis can be successfully treated.
How to Tell if Your Child has Gum Disease
Gum disease is extremely difficult to self-diagnosis because it is often asymptomatic. It isn’t until is progresses into the advanced stages that symptoms become noticeable.
Even though gingivitis is usually asymptomatic, there are still symptoms that typically occur. Unfortunately, many people often assume the symptoms that are occurring are caused by something else and don’t think it is gum disease.
If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, it could be because they are suffering from gum disease. Symptoms of gum disease include:

  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Red, inflamed gums
  • Slight pain around the gum line
  • Bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away
  • Gums that appear to be pulling away from the teeth
  • Noticeable plaque buildup around the gum line

How is Gum Disease Treated in Children?
The type of treatment that is used to treat your child’s gum disease will depend upon how severe it is. If your child had mild to moderate gingivitis, professional teeth cleaning is often all that is needed to treat it. However, if the gum disease has progressed to periodontitis, your child may need to undergo a “deep cleaning”.
Good News! Gum Disease is Usually Preventable in Children
Gum disease can be extremely painful and cause permanent damage to your teeth and gums. Luckily, it is preventable.   
Ways to prevent gum disease in children include:

  • Encouraging your child to brush approximately 20 minutes after every meal
  • Brush a minimum of twice a day if brushing after every meal is not possible
  • Floss at least once a day usually in the evening
  • Learning the proper way to brush and floss to all plaque is removed
  • Scheduling regular checkups with a pediatric dentist
  • Getting teeth professionally cleaned every three to four months
  • Encouraging children to only eat sugary treats in moderation

Schedule a Dental Appointment for Your Child
Looking for a pediatric dentist in the Orlando area who has experience in diagnosing, treating and preventing gum disease in children? If so, call Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida. Our dentists don’t believe in just treating gum disease, they believe in helping parents prevent it. Our dentists provide advice to parents on how they can prevent gum disease from developing.
Call our office today to schedule an appointment for you child. We look forward to welcoming you to our dental family.