Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in the United States. It is also one of the most prevalent (and serious) oral health conditions among adults. But what about kids? Are children at risk for gum disease too? Unfortunately, periodontal disease is not just an adult problem. Here’s a better explanation of what each stage of gum disease is and why you should put it on your child’s oral health radar.
What Causes Gum Disease?
Gum disease develops from excess oral bacteria and plaque buildup across the gum line. These are substances that are not exclusive to adults, but that can be washed and cleaned away with proper brushing and flossing at any age. Unfortunately, when plaque accumulates at the gums and around the tooth roots, it can irritate the gums and cause a destructive infection that can eventually lead to tooth loss if not treated. This is why it is imperative that you not only learn the warning signs of periodontal disease for yourself, but that you know how to recognize it within your child’s smile too.
Stages of Gum Disease
Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your child’s gums are affected. This early stage of gum disease is marked by inflammation of the gums as well as bleeding, redness and tenderness. Gingivitis is easily reversible, but it must be addressed with better brushing and flossing.
If left untreated, gingivitis progresses to the more advanced stage of periodontitis, which is a much more destructive stage that can compromise the underlying bone that supports your child’s teeth. In some cases, the bacteria from the gum infection can enter the bloodstream and threaten your child’s overall health.
Gum Disease is Possible But Preventable
While kids are certainly at risk for gum disease, there are ways to drastically lower that risk. Take the time to teach your child about proper oral hygiene, which should include brushing twice a day for two minutes each session and flossing every day. Be sure to use a fluoridated toothpaste and monitor your child’s intake of starchy and sugary foods. Most importantly, don’t skip routine dental visits. These checkups allow your dentist to detect early stages of gum disease before they get more difficult to reverse.
Schedule your family’s dental checkups with Gilreath Family Dentistry today. We love treating your entire family in one place!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Paul Gilreath IV,