Even though children lose a set of teeth as they move into adolescence, unchecked periodontal health in children can still progress to disease. If children develop very aggressive oral conditions, it may also be a warning sign of other systemic issues. Parents should monitor their periodontal health in children until the child is capable and responsible enough to maintain their own oral care routine.
Once youth begins to go through puberty, the change in hormones can make them more susceptible to periodontal disease. Hormones increase blood flow to the gums, which can cause them to swell and have more severe reactions to irritants, like food particles and plaque. It is important for teens to monitor their periodontal health and maintain a diligent brushing and flossing routine while they are in this stage of development. Sensitivity issues will decrease as the teen progress through puberty.
SIGNS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Children have the same symptoms of periodontal disease as adults, including:
- Bleeding gums, due to brushing, flossing, or any other reason
- Swelling and puffy, red gums
- Receding gums, or spaces between teeth and gums
- Persistent bad breath, even after brushing
TYPES OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE IN CHILDREN
Children commonly develop chronic gingivitis. The indicators are the same as in adults; swollen or red gums that may be prone to bleeding. Symptoms can be reversed or prevented entirely through regular check ups and establishing routine oral care at home. Without proper treatment, gingivitis can progress into a more serious periodontal disease.
Teens and young adults can develop aggressive periodontitis, especially around the time their molars and incisors push through the gums. Although this disease is not generally associated with plaque or tartar buildup, it is characterized by severe loss of alveolar bone.
Generalized Aggressive Periodontitis
Youth going through puberty can develop generalized aggressive periodontitis. Symptoms include inflamed gums and heavy buildup of plaque and tartar, which often will affect the entire mouth. Without treatment, generalized aggressive periodontitis can lead to loose teeth.
ADVICE FOR PARENTS
Keeping your child up to date with dental appointments can help prevent and monitor symptoms of poor periodontal health in children. There are also a few tips for at home oral care that parents can implement early on in their child’s life:
- Teach good oral care habits early. At 12 months old, start using toothpaste when brushing your baby’s teeth. Once the spaces between teeth begin to close, start a regular flossing routine as well.
- Bring your child to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
- Monitor your child’s mouth for signs of disease. Check for chronic bad breath and red or swollen gums, prone to bleeding or recession.
- Lead by example. Teach your child what healthy oral hygiene looks by showing them your own regular at home periodontal health routine.