Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is usually a more prominent concern for adults than for younger patients. That’s because the conditions that lead to it can often take years to develop enough to show symptoms, or to become a significant threat to your oral health.
However, that does not mean that children are immune. Though not as common as cavities, gum disease is a product of inadequate hygiene and dental care, and in some cases, children can become at-risk for gum disease before reaching adulthood.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease is a general term that describes infection, inflammation, and damage to your gums and periodontal tissues supporting your teeth. Its earliest stage, known as gingivitis, can be detected by the redness, swelling, and occasional bleeding it causes in gum tissues. The condition results from an excessive buildup of plaque and tartar along the gum line, which allows the bacteria in plaque and tartar to attack the gums until they begin to separate from the teeth.
As gingivitis progresses, it matures into full-blown gum disease, and can begin eroding the jawbone underneath the gums that holds your teeth’s roots in place. In children, gum disease often manifests as aggressive periodontitis, which typically develops around the molars, premolars, and incisors.
Children at or around the age of puberty may also experience generalized aggressive periodontitis. The disease affects the whole mouth and can eventually cause teeth to loosen and fall out, if not treated in time.
Protect Your Child’s Smile
Though the effects of gum disease can be slightly scary, especially to children, the condition can be largely prevented with a consistently good hygiene routine. Be sure your children brush their teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once (preferably before bedtime, when plaque and tartar accumulate the most).
Also, schedule routine checkup and cleaning appointments for your children so the dentist can thoroughly check for signs of gingivitis, as well as cavities, alignment issues, tooth damage, and more. If gingivitis flares up, then your children’s dentist can recommend appropriate treatment to prevent the condition from growing worse and risking your child’s dental health.