When we think about gum disease, most of us imagine mature adults who have neglected their dental health for years. What about children? At Pediatric Dental Center in Burlington, we know from experience that kids can get it, too.
Let’s discuss it.
Children and adolescents are at risk of gum disease and the more advanced form called periodontal disease.
What causes gingivitis and periodontal disease?
Gingivitis and periodontal disease are caused by plaque buildup.
Food particles mixed with saliva produce a sticky film called plaque. Plaque creates bacteria. If it is not removed regularly with brushing and flossing, the bacteria multiply. The plaque builds up on the teeth.
The gums respond to the bacteria by becoming sore and inflamed. Plaque buildup hardens into calculus. Calculus cannot be removed by a toothbrush or dental floss. Calculus can be removed during a professional dental cleaning.
The American Academy of Periodontology recognizes three kinds of gum disease in children and teenagers:
- Chronic gingivitis
- Aggressive periodontitis
- Generalized aggressive periodontitis
If left untreated, gum disease becomes so acute the teeth become loose, leaving the child is at risk of tooth loss.
Four key findings about gum and periodontal disease in children:
- Children and teens who are generally healthy can have gum disease.
- Hormonal fluctuation that occurs with puberty ups the risk of periodontal disease. Researchers believe hormonal changes decrease the ability of the immune system to resist the bacteria in dental plaque.
- Epidemiologic studies indicate that gum disease of varying severity is nearly universal in children and adolescents.
- Periodontal disease is more likely to occur in youth ages 12-17 than those younger than 12.
Signs of gum disease:
- Swollen, tender gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Gum recession
- Bad breath
- Unusually large spaces between teeth
- Pus between the gums and teeth
- Changes in bite alignment
At Pediatric Dental Center, we treat all pediatric oral conditions including gingivitis and periodontal disease. We offer comprehensive pediatric dentistry and early dental care. We have offices in Burlington, Cold Spring and Crestview Hills KY. Call for an appointment today!
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