As a parent, you most likely prioritize the health and wellness of your children. From regular physicals with their pediatrician and making sure they get sufficient exercise to feeding your children a well-balanced diet, the various tasks needed to keep them healthy and happy can become overwhelming. However, you should also place emphasis on your child's oral health. Cavities and tooth staining are not the only issues that can affect your child's smile. While shocking for many parents to learn, children can also develop gum disease. With this guide, you will understand the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for pediatric gum disease.
The Causes of Gum Disease In Children
Food can quickly build up on your child's teeth, gums, and tongue. This buildup can be removed with proper brushing and rinsing. However, without proper brushing, the food debris will create a stubborn film on the teeth. Known as plaque, this film can harden into bacteria and tartar that spreads across the teeth and gum tissue. During the early stages of gum disease, the bacteria will decay your child's teeth and irritate the gum tissue.
Signs of Gum Disease In Children
Check your child's mouth, teeth, and gums regularly to determine if they are showing early signs of gum disease. Here are a few signs of this disease:
- Red gum tissue
- Swollen gum tissue
- Bleeding gums while brushing and flossing teeth
- Bad breath that does not get better after brushing teeth
- Loose teeth
- Gum tissue receding away from teeth
Your child may also complain of discomfort while brushing their teeth or chewing. As gum disease progress, the tissue will recede, exposing the roots of your child's teeth. This may cause your child to complain about tooth sensitivity while consuming hot or cold food and drinks.
Treating Pediatric Gum Disease
If your child is displaying one or more of the above signs, schedule an appointment with the dentist immediately. While many cases of gum disease are easy to diagnose, the dentist may prefer taking an x-ray to see any underlying damage to your child's teeth, gum tissue, and nerves.
Treating the condition is possible, but the method will depend on the severity of your child's gum disease.
If your child is dealing with an early stage of gum disease, a scaling and root scaling procedure will be used to restore the teeth and gums back to health. During this treatment, the dentist will use tools to clean the teeth and gums in a deeper, more effective manner. Plaque and tartar will be scraped and removed from the teeth and gum line.
Your child may also need to take prescription antibiotics to prevent further inflammation and any infections related to the gum disease. Antibiotics may be in a pill form that should be taken orally or administered with a medicated mouthwash. Your dentist may also apply antibiotic gel to the diseased pockets of your child's gum tissue.
In severe cases of gum disease, surgery may be necessary. Dentists will make a few small incisions in your child's gum tissue to open up and clean the diseased pockets. After cleaning out the infected areas, the gum tissue is stitched back up tightly to prevent any future issues.
It is important to note that gum disease can be prevented. Teach your child the imperative nature of brushing their teeth properly. Your child should brush their teeth for two minutes at a time, twice a day for the best protection against stains, cavities, decay, and gum disease.
Gum disease may be more common in adults, but it could still be an issue for your child. Use this guide and the help of your pediatric dentist to understand pediatric gum disease.