Our dentists at Toothworks will tell you the oral health condition of gum disease is extremely common among Canadian adults. However, many people do not know that children can also be vulnerable to this disease. Today, our dentists at Toothworks The Boardwalk Dental explain how this happens and what can be done to prevent it.
What is gum disease?
Also called periodontal disease, gum disease infects the oral cavity. The condition affects the teeth as well as the gums, and in severe cases, the supporting jaw bone.
Gingivitis is the earliest and mildest stage of gum disease. It's also the form that children and teenagers most commonly experience.
What are the causes of gum disease?
As a result of poor oral hygiene, plaque builds up in the mouth and gum disease occurs. This is a common problem in children. Plaque is a sticky film that develops on teeth when bacteria is not removed from the mouth on a sufficient or regular basis. This leads to tartar that often infects the gums, causing them to swell and redden.
Children also aren't necessarily immune to other causes of gum disease. for example, mouth breathing is a cause of chronic dry mouth, which in turn may lead to gingivitis if not treated properly. Further, if there is too much sugar and starch in a child's diet, the gums and teeth won't get enough nutrients. This further increases the risk of gum disease in children.
Hormonal changes, especially during puberty, also come with an increased risk of gum disease since blood flow increases due to hormonal imbalances. This imbalance can lead to sensitive teeth and gums, which are in turn more vulnerable to plaque and food particles.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Depending on where it is in its progression, gum disease may manifest in a variety of ways. While early symptoms are mild compared to advanced symptoms, they are still uncomfortable and inconvenient. They are also a warning sign of more serious potential problems to come.
Early symptoms of gum disease tend to include:
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums during flossing
- Bad breath
If gum disease is allowed to progress unchecked and untreated, it will eventually manifest itself in more severe symptoms.
Advanced symptoms of gum disease tend to include:
- Receding gums
- Periodontal pockets (space between the gums and teeth)
- Painful chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth (which may eventually fall out)
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.