Talking to Your Kids About Gum Disease

There’s something about your child’s beautiful smile that can just make you melt. But you may not realize that as soon as your children get teeth, they become susceptible to gum disease. Although certain types of gum disease more prevalent in adults, children still can be affected by gum disease. Regular dental visits definitely help prevent gum disease, but it’s important for parents to start talking to kids about gum disease, encouraging good habits that can prevent gum disease and preserve that beautiful smile you love so much. Here’s some helpful information you can use to talk to kids about gum disease on a level they’ll understand.
Gum Disease – What is It?
Gum disease, which your dentist may call periodontal disease, is a type of inflammation that happens in the bone and tissues that are supporting your teeth. If you don’t have gum disease treated, it can make teeth become loose or even fall out. Usually the buildup of plaque, that sticky, invisible layer of germs that builds up on your gums and teeth, is the cause of gum disease. Since plaque has bacteria, or germs, in it, those germs can make toxins that hurt and irritate your gums. Hundreds of different types of germs live in the mouth, so it is always a battle to keep that plaque away.
Who is at Risk for Gum Disease?
Many different things can make you have a higher risk of gum disease. Sometimes people inherit the tendency to get gum disease from parents. The food choices you make also can increase your risk of getting gum disease. If you are grabbing unhealthy foods like sodas and snacks and you don’t brush soon after you eat, the sugar and starches in those food can actually eat away the enamel of your teeth. Wearing braces, some medical problems, and taking some medicines can increase your risk of developing gum disease.
What are the Signs of Gum Disease?
Gum disease can cause painful problems if you don’t treat it and prevent it. In fact, your teeth could fall out if gum disease is severe and not treated. It is important to know the most common signs of gum disease. Some of the signs you could have gum disease include:

  • Red, tender, or swollen gums (your gums should normally look firm and pink
  • Bad breath that you cannot get rid of
  • Bleeding gums that happens regularly when you floss or brush your teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Signs of the gums pulling away from your teeth

If you notice any of these problems, you should tell your parents and you should visit your dentist. If gum disease is treated early, you can avoid bigger problems like tooth loss.
The Best Ways to Prevent Gum Disease
The great news is that in most cases, you can actually prevent gum disease. However, you have to start taking good care of your teeth now, while you are still a kid. Some important ways you can prevent gum disease include:

  • Make sure you brush at least twice a day for two minutes, which is around the length of a fun song. You also need to floss every day. You can ask your dentist to tell you how to floss and brush properly so you do the best possible job cleaning your teeth at home.
  • Make sure you are using toothpaste that has fluoride in it. You can also talk to your dentist about using a mouth rinse that has fluoride.
  • Eat healthy foods. Don’t eat too much sugar, which is found in junk foods and many snack foods. The germs in your mouth love sugar and feed on it, so you need to stick with healthier, low-sugar foods most of the time.
  • You should use a toothbrush that has soft bristles, since they are least likely to injure or irritate your gums. Your toothbrush should also be replaced every 3-4 months, since a toothbrush that is worn-out may actually cause injury to your gums.
  • Never smoke. Even if someone offers you cigarettes, don’t take them. Both cigarettes and chewing tobacco can be unhealthy for your teeth and gums, making you more likely to have gum disease.
  • Be sure you see your dentist twice a year for your regular cleanings and exams. This way hardened plaque and tartar that you’re not able to remove by brushing is removed from teeth, lowering your chance of getting gum disease.