Kids Can Get Gum Disease Too
Can kids really get gum disease?
When we think of teeth and kids, one of the first things that come to mind is the risk of tooth decay and cavities. As parents, we do what we can to protect our children’s teeth and keep them healthy and white. We try to feed them tooth-friendly foods and work hard to instill a good oral care routine in our kids. But what many parents often overlook is their child’s gum health. And believe it or not, kids can get gum disease too.
Causes of Gum Disease in Kids
Just as it is the main cause of cavities in kids, plaque build-up is also the main cause of gum disease. And gum disease, when left untreated, can lead to periodontal disease, a severe bacterial infection that can destroy your child’s gums and the supporting structures of your teeth. Children are more likely to have gingivitis, the mildest and earliest form of gum disease. This said, good dental care can help prevent the onset of gum disease in the first place.
While we know that plaque build-up can cause gum disease in kids, let’s get a bit more specific about four causes that can lead to that plaque build-up.
1. Poor Oral Care
We know that teaching kids how to take care of their teeth and gums can be tricky. The best place to start, however, is with the basics. Teach your child how to brush their teeth properly. Buy them an age-appropriate toothbrush and have them brush their teeth twice daily (after breakfast and before bed) for two minutes at a time. At night before bed, help them to floss between all of their teeth, and then help them to rinse their mouth with a fluoride mouthwash.
2. Poor Diet
Kids need and deserve a diet full of the proper nutrients. The best diet for kids includes at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. Sticking to lean meats and avoiding excess sugars and starches can help too. But if your child’s diet is low in essential nutrients, their mouth tissues may not be able to fight infections that lead to periodontal disease.
3. Clenching and Grinding Teeth
Some kids clench and grind their teeth uncontrollably (referred to as bruxism) during times of stress or when they are sleeping. The force caused by clenching and grinding repeatedly can damage their teeth’s supporting tissues, loosening their teeth due to the deepening of the periodontal pockets. Talk to your dentist about a nightguard if your child is clenching and grinding their teeth.
4. Mouth Breathing
Some kids breathe through their mouths, especially at night. Usually, this happens because of an obstruction in the nasal passage. This might mean a deviated septum, polyps, or enlarged tissues, vessels, or bones in their nasal passage. Unfortunately, mouth breathing can cause chronic dry mouth and increase the risk of gum disease in kids.
Signs of Gum Disease in Kids
Just as parents need to be on the lookout for signs of tooth decay and cavities in kids, it is also vital to understand the signs of gum disease. Though the above causes are significant contributors, genetics, various medications, and hormonal changes can also increase the risk of gum disease. Watch for the following signs of something going wrong with your child’s gums.
- Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing
- Receding gums
- Red, swollen, and sore gums
- Bad breath (halitosis) that won’t go away
- Loose teeth or separating teeth that have larger gaps between them than you would consider normal
- A change in the alignment of their bite or jaw
- Pus that forms between the teeth and gums
Treating Gum Disease in Kids
As we said earlier, a primary cause of gum disease in kids is poor oral care. Be sure your child is brushing, flossing, and rinsing each day properly. And make sure that they are making a trip to the dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and oral evaluation. If your child does develop gum disease, their dentist will likely recommend one or more of the following courses of action.
- Improving their oral care routine at home
- Antibiotic medicine to place in the periodontal pockets
- A deep cleaning (called scaling and root planing) to remove plaque and tartar under the gum and within the infected tissues
- Surgery for more advances cases where the infected areas under the gums need to be cleaned and the tissues need to be reshaped or replaced
Can kids get gum disease? Yes! But good oral care at home and regular trips to the dentist can help keep it away.
If your child is showing signs of gum disease or if they are overdue for their six-month dental cleaning and oral evaluation, now is the time to request an appointment with the best family dentist in Lawton, OK. The team at Sheppard Family Dental Care looks forward to helping you and your child get and stay on the path to optimal oral health.