It’s well-known that cavities are common in kids, but many other oral health issues are often thought of as adult-only issues. Unfortunately, this just isn’t true. While gum disease is more common in adults, teens and children are just as vulnerable to this scary bacterial infection. Thankfully, many cases of gum disease in kids are still gingivitis, which means the condition can still be reversed and permanent damage can be avoided. But that’s only if it’s caught early enough and treated correctly! Read on as we go over the basics of gum disease in kids, including what causes it, the most common warning signs, and the best treatment options.
What Is Gum Disease & What Causes It?
Gum disease is a bacterial infection in the gums. When plaque and bacteria build up and attack the gums, the tissue can become inflamed and swollen. Without the right treatment, this infection can continue to grow. It will begin to damage the gums, weaken the jawbone, and destroy the connective tissues that help hold the teeth in place! That’s why it’s the leading cause of tooth loss in adults in the US. The most common causes and risk factors of gum disease include:
- Poor oral hygiene and bad dental habits
- Sugary diet or diabetes
- Hormonal changes in the body, like puberty
- A dry mouth or bruxism (teeth grinding)
- Certain diseases, medications, and genetics
Most Common Signs of Gum Disease in Kids
The later stages of gum disease cannot be reversed, and the damage they cause is permanent. However, early gum disease can be treated and cured before causing lasting damage. That’s why it’s so important to catch gum disease early! Keep a look out for these common warning signs that your child may have gum disease:
- Red, puffy-looking gums that bleed easily (especially while brushing or flossing)
- Teeth that look longer than normal, or gum recession
- Chronic or recurring bad breath, even after brushing
- Loose or sensitive teeth
- Larger-than-normal spaces between the teeth
Treatment Options for Kids with Gum Disease
Thankfully, there are plenty of easy (and comfortable) ways to treat gum disease in children. Sometimes, gum disease can be addressed at home with an improved oral hygiene routine and special mouthwashes or toothpaste. Your dentist may need to clean their teeth more frequently. For more pronounced cases, your child may need a deep cleaning from their dentist to fully clear out the bacteria and treat the infected tissue. This will also help the gums reattach to the teeth after they’ve pulled away. Other times, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to completely eliminate the infection and restore gum health. In more advanced cases, the infected areas under the gums may need to be thoroughly cleaned, reshaped, or replaced via a minor surgery.
While gum disease in kids can be somewhat scary, it’s also easy to prevent. Make sure you’re teaching your little one to brush for two minutes twice a day, floss daily, and are taking them in for their regular checkups twice a year to keep their precious smile healthy and free of gum disease!
About the Practice
At West Brookfield Dental, we are pleased to offer comprehensive and gentle care for growing smiles of all ages. Our team includes Dr. Bakr Amin, our in-office pediatric dentist, who has advanced training in meeting the unique oral healthcare needs of children and teens. We go above and beyond to keep your little one’s precious smile healthy as it grows with a variety of children’s dental treatments customized just for them. To learn more about gum disease in children, we can be contacted online or at (508) 867-2777.