What is gum disease?
Also known as periodontal disease, gum disease is an infection of the oral cavity. It affects not just the gums but also the teeth. In severe cases, it can also impact the supporting jaw bone.
Gingivitis is the mildest stage of gum disease, and also the type that's most common in children and teenagers.
What are the causes of gum disease?
As a result of poor oral hygiene, plaque can accumulate in the mouth and lead to gum disease, which is a common problem in children. If bacteria is not removed sufficiently and regularly enough, plaque is a sticky film that develops on teeth. As a result, tartar will form after plaque has built up. This will then infect the gums, causing them to swell and become red.
There are some other causes of gum disease that children aren't necessarily immune to. For example, mouth breathing is a cause of chronic dry mouth. In turn, this can lead to gingivitis if not properly treated. Further, a diet filled with sugars and starches won't provide enough nutrients for the teeth and gums, which further increases 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.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Gum disease can manifest itself in a variety of ways depending on where it is in its progression. While early symptoms are mild in comparison to advanced symptoms, they are still inconvenient and uncomfortable, as well as a warning sign of potentially more serious 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.