Minors and Gingivitis?
One of the best ways to prevent gingivitis is by adhering to healthy oral hygiene habits throughout your lifetime, and this includes childhood. Regular brushing and flossing and routine dental visits can keep gum disease at bay no matter a person’s age, but establishing these habits early can make a world of difference over the long term. The Center for Disease Control estimates that almost half of Americans over age 30 have some type of gum disease, and these numbers increase with age. Gum disease in children is very rare, and preventing it is possible with well-established habits.
Gingivitis, which is commonly known as gum disease, develops because of the thin, sticky film of bacterial plaque that forms on the teeth and feeds on tiny particles of food debris that linger on the surfaces of the teeth and gums. As these bacteria dine on your leftovers, they emit an acid that wears down the enamel on the teeth and the soft tissue of the gums. This cycle continues until the teeth are properly brushed and flossed. If too much of this bacteria accumulates in the mouth, which occurs in the absence of oral hygiene, the gums become sore and swollen, and the gums might bleed while flossing or brushing. These are the first signs of gum disease.
When gum disease is detected early, it can be reversed. Even when it is asymptomatic, gum disease can be detected at a routine dental checkup, and these routine dental checkups should be considered an integral part of your child’s overall care. If gum disease is present at a routine checkup, the dentist and dental hygienist will address the issue while cleaning the teeth. Tartar, also called dental calculus, is calcified plaque that hardens on the teeth. The presence of tartar on the teeth at and below the gums increases the amount of inflammation and allows a greater amount of bacteria to colonize beneath the gums. Because it is so hard and calcified, tartar can only be removed by a dental professional in a clinical setting. Because tartar is so destructive, these professional cleanings are a key part of protecting the health of the entire oral cavity.
Other elements of a successful oral hygiene routine include brushing and flossing, but many people don’t realize that they’re not brushing or flossing as effectively as they could be. It’s not uncommon to brush and floss the teeth too hard, wearing away at enamel and gum tissue, and your dentist can help you learn how to brush properly. The goal is to brush twice each day, brushing for two minutes or more in gentle, small circles, making sure to clean all the surfaces of the teeth and loosening debris from below the gum line. Flossing can also help loosen debris and should also be done gently, sliding the floss along the surface of the teeth and taking care to avoid jamming it into the gums. Your child’s dentist or dental hygienist will show you and your child the proper techniques and watch you as you practice, and your dental hygienist can also recommend different types of toothbrushes, toothpastes, and floss to meet your child’s tastes and preferences. Many children enjoy different flavored toothpaste, and that is totally fine. Whatever helps establish healthy habits will have overall positive results, but don’t be afraid to ask your dentist questions about the best approaches if you have them.