Gum disease (also referred to as periodontal disease) is an infection of the oral cavity that affects the gums, teeth, and in serious situations the supporting jaw bone.
The earliest and most mild stage of gum disease is gingivitis and it is the most common form in teenagers and children.
Gum Disease Causes
When plaque builds up in the mouth as a result of poor oral hygiene, gum disease occurs, which is a common problem in children. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth when bacteria is not removed from the mouth on a regular or sufficient basis. Tartar will form as a result of the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, which will then infect the gums, causing them to become red and swollen.
There are still some other causes of gum diseases that children aren't necessarily immune to. Mouth breathing, for example, is a cause of chronic dry mouth, which in turn can lead to gingivitis if not handled properly. Further, a diet full of starches and sugars won't provide enough nutrients to the gums and teeth, further increasing the risk of gum disease in children.
Hormonal changes, especially during puberty, also come with an increased risk of gum disease. This is because blood flow is increased due to hormonal imbalances. This imbalance can create sensitive gums and teeth, which are in turn more susceptible to plaque and food particles.
Signs & Symptoms of Gum Disease
Gum disease reveals itself in various ways, depending on which stage it is in. While the earliest signs are relatively mild when compared to more advanced symptoms, they can still be very uncomfortable and inconvenient, they are also warnings signs that there is potential for more serious issues to develop.
Early gum disease symptoms could include:
- Bleeding gums during flossing
- Bad breath
- Inflamed or swollen gums
If gum disease goes unaddressed it could eventually start to develop more serious symptoms.
Advanced gum disease symptoms could include:
- Sensitive teeth
- Receding gums
- Painful chewing
- Loose teeth (which may eventually fall out)
- Periodontal pockets (space between the gums and teeth)
Preventing Gum Disease in Children
Gum disease can be prevented in both children and adults with a few simple steps. It probably won't come as a surprise to learn that maintaining good oral hygiene is essential in preventing gum disease from developing in the first place!
An effective oral hygiene routine at home, as well as regular dental visits for cleanings and examinations, are essential components of good oral health.