Periodontal disease is not unique to adults, it’s a problem for children and teens too. Early diagnosis is a significant factor in the successful treatment of gum diseases. Therefore, it is essential for youngsters to have a comprehensive periodontal examination as part of their regular dental visits.
Three Basic Types of Childhood/Teen Periodontal Disease
There are three common types of periodontal disease in youngsters. They include:
Chronic gingivitis is a mild inflammation of the gum tissues that is common in children and teens. Symptoms include:
- Gum redness
- Swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
With good and consistent oral hygiene—including a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and professional dental care—this stage of gum disease can be prevented. Once it appears, it can also be reversed. Treatment is essential, though, or the condition will worsen and progress in severity.
Aggressive periodontitis often affects children and teens who are otherwise healthy. It begins as a localized issue that mainly involves first incisors and molars. While there is typically no plaque or tartar buildup, it often causes significant loss of alveolar bone, the part of the jaw that contains the tooth sockets.
Generalized aggressive periodontitis can develop at the onset of puberty and often affects the entire mouth. It typically manifests as:
- Inflammation of the gums
- Heavy plaque and tartar buildup
- Loosening of teeth as a result of ongoing disease
During early adolescence and throughout puberty, increased hormone levels can boost blood circulation to the gum tissues. Consequently, gum sensitivity and inflammation often result. Some dentists may recommend periodontal therapies to prevent damage to the connective tissues and bones that surround and anchor the teeth. The tendency for hormone-induced changes to cause gum swelling in response to irritants will lessen as the teen progresses through puberty.
Take Preventative Steps
Establishing proper and consistent oral health habits is the primary step in fighting periodontal disease in children. These preventive steps can help a child achieve and maintain good oral health:
- Establish dental hygiene habits early. When a child is 12 months old, he or she can begin brushing the teeth with toothpaste. As soon as the gaps between a child’s teeth close, it’s important to start flossing between them.
- Practice good dental hygiene habits yourself to serve as a model of proper behavior for children and teens.
- Schedule regular visits to the dentist for checkups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings. Early orthodontic evaluations are helpful too.
- Check for signs of periodontal disease. Be aware of periodontal disease symptoms, including
- Bleeding gums
- Swollen gums
- Bright red gums
- Gums that recede away from the teeth
- Bad breath
Benefits of Early Diagnosis and Prevention
Parents need to be proactive and attentive to developing issues early on, as successful treatment of gum problems is more likely if detected early on. You can check your child’s teeth and gums and teeth at home, but a comprehensive periodontal exam during routine scheduled dental visits increases the likelihood of early intervention. To get the gentle and compassionate dental care your child deserves, contact a family dentist and schedule an exam.
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