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How Gum Disease Affects Children
Gum disease can be a scary diagnosis, particularly when diagnosed in children. Luckily, most children with gum disease have the mildest form, known as gingivitis. This article will go over what gum disease is, what warning signs to look out for, as well as some tips to keep your child free from gum disease.
What is gum disease?
According to the American Dental Association, gum disease is an infection that affects the tissues and bone that support teeth. You may also hear of gum disease being referred to as periodontitis.
Gum disease is typically categorized by severity: Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease, which is fortunately reversible and can typically be eliminated by a professional cleaning, while periodontitis is the more advanced stage of gum disease, which can be irreversible and lead to the breakdown of the tissues and bones that support your teeth.
What to look out for
There are several warning signs of gum disease that you should be looking out for. Some of the most common symptoms include:
- Excessive bleeding when brushing or flossing
- Sore or painful gums
- Bad breath that does not go away
- Red or swollen gums
- Gums that pull away from the teeth
- Loose teeth or large gaps between the teeth
- Pus between the teeth and gums
What can make children more susceptible to gum disease?
Studies have shown that there are conditions that can make children more susceptible to gum disease. Type 1 diabetes, Down syndrome, leukemia and Papillon-Lefevre syndrome have all been linked to an increased prevalence of gum disease. Additionally, in older children, puberty can have an impact on gum health. An increase in hormones can make your child’s gums more sensitive to irritation and infection.
Tips to avoid gum disease
The most obvious (and arguably the most important) tip to avoid gum disease is to brush at least twice daily. Gum disease is generally caused by a buildup of plaque, so brushing twice daily and flossing daily can help to remove the plaque before it has a chance to build up and cause problems. It is important to monitor your child’s brushing practices, to ensure that they are brushing long enough, using the right amount of toothpaste and reaching all parts of their mouth.
Another tip is to help your child eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. Getting enough vitamins and minerals from a variety of foods can help keep your gum tissue healthy. Additionally, limiting sugary foods, such as soda and candy, can help keep your child’s mouth healthy.
When it comes to gum disease in children, prevention is key. Helping your child to develop strong oral health practices early in life can make all the difference. The next best defense against gum disease is early detection. Establishing care with a dentist you trust allows for the detection of early-stage gum disease, which in turn can help eliminate it early on before bigger problems emerge. Regular visits for examination and professional cleanings are a vital step in keeping your children’s teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
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