What Parents Need to Know About Gum Disease in Children

August 11, 2018, Dr. Michael Long DDS

What Parents Need to Know About Gum Disease in Children
What Parents Need to Know About Gum Disease in Children

Many think that periodontal disease is an exclusively adult problem, even though many studies now indicate that gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease, is also present in children and adolescents. The advanced forms of periodontal disease are rarer in children than in adults, but may nevertheless be present.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Children

If your child is consuming sugary and starchy foods in excess, wearing orthodontic braces that are difficult to clean regularly, or taking certain medications that can affect the gums, you need to look for warning signs of periodontal disease. Some symptoms of periodontal disease are:

  • the bleeding of the gums during daily brushing;
  • the swelling and redness of the gums;
  • the recession of the gums, which move away from the teeth sometimes until the roots are visible;
  • constant bad breath, which does not change even with proper daily hygiene.

Different Types of Periodontal Diseases in Children

Chronic gingivitis is common in this age group. Causes swelling of the gums, redness, ease of bleeding. If left untreated, it may progress to more severe forms of periodontal disease.

The aggressive periodontitis can affect children who are healthy in all other respects. It is a very aggressive and localized form present in teenagers and young adults and mainly affects incises and the first molars. It is characterized by a severe loss of alveolar bone, even in patients with very little plaque or tartar.

The generalized periodontitis may begin around puberty and involve the whole mouth. It is characterized by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulation of plaque and tartar. It makes the teeth less firm.

The periodontitis associated with a systemic disease is present in children and adolescents as well as adults. The conditions that make children more likely to develop are type 1 diabetes (insulin-dependent), Down syndrome, and Papillon-Lefevre syndrome.

Periodontal Disease Treatment

Preventive visits to a pediatric dentist are important to treat the disease in time. Some common methods include:

  • Antibiotics: Medication to heal the gums and prevent further spread of bacteria can be prescribed.
  • Scaling: This procedure helps remove all plaque and tartar from the tooth’s surface and from around the gums.
  • Surgery: This may be required during advanced stages of periodontal disease.
  • Gingival grafting: It involves replacing the diseased gum tissue with a healthy gum tissue. 

Tips for Parents to Prevent Periodontal Disease in Children

Gingivitis is preventable with a regular routine of toothbrush and toothpaste, and dental floss.

  • Replacing the toothbrush every 2-3 months, using a soft bristle toothbrush and correct brushing practice is essential to prevent damage to the gums.
  • Preventive visits to a pediatric dentist are important and professional teeth cleaning must be done at least twice a year.
  • Check if someone in the family has a habit of grinding teeth, a phenomenon that in addition to ruining the teeth can increase the risk of developing a periodontal disease.
  • Some research suggests that periodontal disease can be transmitted through saliva, so if a family member has periodontal disease, avoid coming in close contact with children or sharing food and cutlery.
  • Adopt a healthy diet and ensure that the children drink a lot of water. 

All these habits and a little precaution can help maintain kids’ oral health and prevent any kind of dental problems in children


Author Bio: 

A dental marketer at Michael G. Long DDS, Fresno, CA and a believer in holistic health, Grace lives by the rule that health and happiness go hand in hand. She writes on various dental topics focusing on healthy living and holistic health. When she’s not working or blogging, she enjoys spending her time with her family and volunteering at the local youth centers where she educates children about the importance of health and fitness.


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