Are Children Susceptible to Gum Disease?

Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a common condition in which plaque builds up on the teeth and can cause the gum tissue to become inflamed. As gum disease progresses, an active infection can ensue underneath the gumline, which can lead to loose teeth and eventually tooth loss.

While periodontal disease can be mild or severe, it’s important to know that nearly everyone is susceptible to this condition, including children. Here’s what you need to know about your child’s risk of periodontal disease.

Chronic Gingivitis Is Common

Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease which involves inflammation of the gum tissue. Unfortunately, chronic gingivitis is common in children [1].

Children who have a poor diet consisting of a lot of sugars and refined carbohydrates as well as those that neglect their oral care are most at risk to get gum disease.

It’s essential to know that just because gum disease is more common in adults doesn’t mean it can’t happen in children as well, so doing your part to help prevent gum disease is important!

Risk Factors for Gum Disease in Children

Children may be more at risk for gum disease if they:

  •  Have a family history of gum disease
  • Eat a poor diet lacking in nutrients
  • Have an autoimmune disorder
  • Breathe through their mouth
  • Grind their teeth

Having one or more of these factors can mean your child may be more at risk for periodontal disease than the average child [2].

Gum tissue is also sensitive to changes in hormones, so while teenagers are going through puberty and experiencing hormones change, they may be more at risk for gingivitis. Teenage girls are typically more susceptible to gum disease than teenage boys [3].

In addition, kids or teens who have braces may not be able to clean their teeth as well. If your child has braces, it’s imperative that you provide them with the tools necessary to clean under their oral appliances to remove plaque and bacteria, such as interdental cleaners.

Symptoms and Treatment

Symptoms of gum disease in children are the same as gum disease in adults and may include gums that bleed when brushing, a receding gumline, loose teeth, constant bad breath, or red gum tissue [4].

If your child is complaining that their gums are sore or that they’re seeing blood when brushing, it’s time to get a checkup with your local dentist.

Treatment for gum disease will depend on how severe the condition is. For gingivitis, a deep cleaning may suffice. For more advanced cases, antibiotic therapy along with a deep cleaning or even surgery may be necessary.

You Can Prevent Gum Disease!

To prevent gum disease in children and teens, the best you can do is encourage healthy eating and oral care habits as well as take your children to the dentist every six months for a professional cleaning. The right habits combined with your dentist’s help can prevent gum disease in your children and set them up for healthy oral care habits for life!