Most parents realize that it is important to begin oral care early in the life of their children. But just what does that mean? We often discuss the benefits of brushing and flossing and healthy eating habits for children, but there is more to it than that. It takes a bit of know-how to keep a child’s entire mouth as healthy as possible. Good habits should revolve around teeth and gums.
Gum disease is a very concerning condition for several reasons. Once this infectious disease has taken hold in any mouth, it is difficult to resolve. The origin of infection is bacteria, and these microorganisms are a natural part of the oral landscape in all of us. We need them to a certain degree, but what we need is for the various types of bacteria to be balanced. When this is not achieved, plaque builds up very quickly, and the gums become weak and loose around teeth. Ultimately, the bacterial infection in the mouth can extend its reach inward toward the bone, and outward into the rest of the body.
Here’s the good news: Most children who develop inflammation experience nothing more than gingivitis. Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease. Even better, gingivitis is the only form of gum disease that can be cured with appropriate care. What is needed is for oral hygiene to be improved upon, and your pediatric dentist in the Houston or Dallas – Fort Worth area can help.
What to Look For
There are telltale signs that the gums are none too happy about the thriving activity of oral bacteria. Early indicators of gingivitis in children may include:
- A swollen or puffy appearance to the gums
- Redness in the gums, especially around teeth
- Chronic bad breath
- Gums bleed when brushing or flossing
What to Do about Gum Disease in Children
Early and consistent dental care is one of the best things parents can provide for their children. In addition to routine care, daily oral hygiene practice should be monitored carefully throughout childhood. Most children are not ready to brush and floss independently until after age 8. Even then, parents need to remain vigilant in follow-up with their child. During the teen years, adolescent hormonal surges increase the risk for inflammation and gum disease so that teens may need a reminder of the value of good oral hygiene.
If signs of gum disease develop, schedule a dental exam sooner rather than later. Professional cleaning can inhibit bacteria from causing extensive damage.