Oral health conditions like gum disease are very common among Canadian adults. But many people may not be aware that children may also be affected by those disease. Here, our Slave Lake dentists explain how this occurs and what can be done to help prevent it.
What is gum disease?
Gum disease is also called periodontal disease and is an infection of the oral cavity that affects not only the gums, but the teeth and in more severe cases, the supporting bones of the jaw.
When it comes to gum disease, gingivitis is the earliest and mildest stage. It is also the form that is most common in children and teenagers.
What are the causes of gum disease?
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 a few other causes of gum disease in children that may impact whether or not your child develops this condition. Mouth breathing is connected with chronic dry mouth, for example, which may contribute to gingivitis. A diet full of sugars and starches also won't provide enough nutrients to the teeth and gums, increasing your teen or child's risk of developing gum disease.
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 show itself in a number of ways depending on how far progressed it is. While its earliest symptoms are mild in comparison to more advanced symptoms, they can still be quite inconvenient and uncomfortable. Thehy also serve as warning signs for potentially more serious issues that may arise in the future.
Early symptoms of gum disease tend to include:
- Bad breath
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums during flossing
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:
- Painful chewing
- Receding gums
- Sensitive teeth
- 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 adults and children with a few simple steps. It may come as no surprise that the biggest of those steps is a good oral hygiene routine. This goes a long way towards ensuring that gum disease doesn't have a chance to develop 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.