Periodontal disease is a growing problem among children, particularly those at the onset of puberty. Periodontal disease, sometimes referred to as gum disease, is a serious problem that can affect one’s overall health and contribute to gum, bone, and tooth loss.
What Types of Periodontal Disease Are Common in Children?
During puberty, abrupt hormonal changes cause increased circulation to the gums, which may cause them to become more sensitive to food particles or inadequate oral hygiene. Three types of periodontal disease are common:
- Chronic gingivitis is the most common gum disease in children. Easily avoided through brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits, chronic gingivitis can cause red and swollen gums. Sometimes the gums may bleed, particularly when flossing. If left untreated, it can progress to more serious forms of periodontal disease.
- Aggressive periodontitis is most commonly found in teens and young adults. The condition generally affects the first molars and incisors and is characterized by a loss of alveolar bone.
- Generalized aggressive periodontitis usually begins around puberty and is characterized by heavy plaque and calculus (tartar) build-up. If not treated, tooth loss may result.
Advice for Parents
Parents are important role models when it comes to the importance of oral hygiene and care. By taking excellent care of your own teeth, you show your children the importance of keeping a healthy mouth. In addition, we recommend:
- Looking at your child’s gums and teeth for evidence of bleeding and swelling. Gums that have a bright red appearance or are visibly pulling away from the teeth are evidence of periodontal disease
- Encouraging an oral care routine that involves twice daily brushing and flossing early. This will pay off as your child becomes more independent and these practices remain habits
- Ensuring that your child visits a kids’ dentist twice each year for a routine cleaning (or prophylaxis) and evaluation. This type of cleaning removes calculus (tartar) and plaque at the gum line, which can lead to gum irritation and gingivitis, thus preventing periodontal disease.
Your kids’ dentist is your partner in oral health. Make certain you contact the office right away if you suspect your child may have the beginning signs of gum disease. Caught early, gum disease is highly treatable and permanent damage can be avoided.