SOME HEALTH ISSUES only impact adults, but gum disease is not one of them. Oral bacteria doesn’t wait for us to get older, so kids and teenagers are also at risk of developing gingivitis and more severe forms of periodontal disease.
The main cause of gum disease in young children is poor oral hygiene. If plaque is left to build up on the teeth until it hardens into tartar, the gums become more vulnerable to irritation and inflammation.
It’s a slightly different story for teenagers because the flood of hormones that comes with puberty can increase blood flow to the gums and make them more sensitive. Girls are more susceptible to this problem than boys, but more than half of teenagers have some form of gum disease.
Children lack the life experience to easily recognize when something is wrong, even if they’re experiencing discomfort, so they might not think to give you a detailed description of their symptoms of gum disease. This can be a real problem because gum disease can worsen over time and it could be more advanced by the time they’ve noticed. Fortunately, there are signs parents can keep an eye out for:
It’s wonderful if your child doesn’t have gum disease, but the fight to maintain healthy gums is continuous. Good dental hygiene habits are essential, so be sure to set an example by brushing twice a day and flossing daily and helping them follow that example. Schedule regular dental checkups for your kids and teens, because the dentist can catch problems early when they’re easier to reverse and professional cleanings are the only way to remove built-up tartar.
Preventing a dental problem is always preferable to treating it once it appears, but it is very possible to fight back against existing gum disease with these same methods: good dental hygiene habits and regular dental appointments.
Childhood is an important time for a person’s oral health, because it’s the time to learn and build the habits that will keep our teeth and gums healthy for the rest of our lives. Parents and dentists can work together to give kids a great headstart on good oral health. They’ll be able to defeat gum disease and build all the tools they need for a lifetime of healthy smiles!