What is gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an infection of the oral cavity that affects not only the gums but also the teeth, and in severe cases, the supporting jaw bone.
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?
Gum disease occurs when plaque accumulates in the mouth as a result of poor oral hygiene, and it is a common problem in children. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on the teeth when bacteria in the mouth is not removed on a regular or adequate basis. Tartar forms as a result of plaque buildup on the teeth, which then infects the gums, causing them to become red and swollen.
Other causes of gum disease that children are not necessarily immune to exist. Mouth breathing, for example, is a cause of chronic dry mouth, which, if not treated properly, can lead to gingivitis. Furthermore, a diet high in starches and sugars will deplete the nutrients available to the gums and teeth, increasing the risk of gum disease in children.
Hormonal changes, particularly during puberty, increase the risk of gum disease. Because of hormonal imbalances, blood flow is increased. This imbalance can result in sensitive gums and teeth, making them more vulnerable to plaque and food particles.
What are the symptoms of gum disease?
Depending on where it is in its progression, gum disease can manifest itself in a variety of ways. While early symptoms are less severe than 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 avoided in both children and adults by taking a few simple precautions. It probably won't surprise you to learn that good oral hygiene is critical 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.