Pediatric Gingivitis & Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the earliest form of gum disease and results in inflamed gums. It often causes the gums to become red, swollen, irritated, and can cause bleeding. Gingivitis can also be found in young children.
Gingivitis develops when bacteria in the mouth collects around the teeth and gums to create a sticky film called plaque. The toxins produced by these bacteria cause irritation of the gums. Over time, the plaque hardens into tartar. Tartar is extremely difficult to remove at home and often leads to additional inflammation of the gums.
One of the most common signs of gingivitis is bleeding gums. This commonly occurs during routine activities such as brushing or flossing. Some of the additional symptoms which can occur include gums which are red, swollen or tender and a foul odor in the mouth.
When gingivitis is left untreated, it can turn into periodontitis which is a more serious form of gum disease. It is possible for periodontitis to result in long-term and permanent damage of the gums and jawbone. This type of gum disease can cause pain, receding gums, and loose teeth and in severe cases, the loss of teeth.
If there is a concern that gingivitis may be present in a child, it is critical to schedule an appointment with a dentist right away. Through prompt intervention and treatment, gingivitis can be stopped and the long-term effects can be prevented. In cases where the child has generally signs of being unwell such as a fever or swelling of the face, and there is concern that this could be a result of dental issues, follow up with the child’s pediatrician or visit the nearest emergency room. These symptoms should be taken seriously and treated as soon as possible. If there is a concern that a child has gingivitis, they should continue brushing their teeth and practicing good oral hygiene. During the dental appointment, the dentist can confirm if the child has gingivitis and discuss a treatment plan.
In most cases, the dentist will treat gingivitis with a thorough cleaning of the child’s teeth. During the cleaning, plaque and tartar will be removed from the gum line and teeth. In severe cases, the dentist may recommend additional treatment for the child. The dentist may also want the child to make more frequent visits to ensure the gum disease does not return.
Two main methods which aid in preventing pediatric gingivitis include good oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist.
The teeth should be brushed at least twice each day using gentle strokes and a soft toothbrush. When the child is between 18 months and six years old, they should use a low-fluoride toothpaste When the child is 6 years old or able to spit out the toothpaste, they can begin using regular toothpaste.
Regular visits to the dentist are also incredibly important. It is recommended that children begin seeing the dentist once their first tooth erupts or by their first birthday. The pediatrician can be an excellent resource for finding a good dentist in your area.
Good oral hygiene aids in the prevention of other dental issues such as tooth decay. It is vital to practice good dental habits early on and teach children how to properly clean and care for their teeth. Good oral health is an important factor associated with good overall health and healthy development for children.