39% of Children have gum
Many people think of periodontal disease as an adult problem. However,
studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is
nearly a universal finding in children and adolescents. Advanced forms of
periodontal disease are more rare in children than adults, but can occur.
For example, in a survey of 263 Type I diabetics, 11 to 18 years of age, 10
percent had overt periodontitis.
Signs of periodontal disease
Four basic signs will alert you to periodontal disease in your child:
- Types of periodontal diseases in children
Chronic gingivitis is common in children.
It usually causes gum tissue to
swell, turn red and bleed easily. Gingivitis is both preventable and
treatable with a regular routine of brushing,
flossing and professional
dental care. However, left untreated, it can eventually advance to more
serious forms of periodontal disease.
Aggressive periodontitis can affect
young people who are otherwise healthy. Localized aggressive periodontitis
is found in teenagers and young adults and mainly affects the first molars
and incisors. It is characterized by the severe loss of alveolar bone, and
ironically, patients generally form very little dental plaque or calculus.
Generalized aggressive periodontitis may begin around puberty and involve
the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy
accumulations of plaque and calculus. Eventually it can cause the teeth to
As with adults, periodontitis associated with systemic disease occurs in
children and adolescents. Conditions that make children more susceptible to
periodontal disease include
|Bleeding - Bleeding gums during tooth brushing, flossing or any
other time. This is caused by toxins created by bacteria that
irritate the gums making them tender and can lead to bleeding.
|Puffiness - Swollen and bright red gums
|Recession - Gums that have receded away from the teeth,
sometimes exposing the roots
|Bad breath - Constant bad breath that does not clear up with
brushing and flossing
Children can brush anywhere! Even in the bathtub!
Adolescence and oral care
Evidence shows that periodontal disease may increase during adolescence
due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain
good oral health habits up until the teen years are more likely to continue
brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care.
Hormonal changes related to puberty can put teens at greater risk for
getting periodontal disease. During puberty, an increased level of sex
hormones, such as progesterone and possibly estrogen, cause increased blood
circulation to the gums. This may cause an increase in the gum's sensitivity
and lead to a greater reaction to any irritation, including food particles
and plaque. During this time, the gums may become swollen, turn red and feel
As a teen progresses through puberty, the tendency for the gums to swell
in response to irritants will lessen. However, during puberty, it is very
important to follow a good at-home oral hygiene regimen, including regular
brushing and flossing, and regular dental
care. In some cases, a dental
professional may recommend periodontal therapy to help prevent damage to the
tissues and bone surrounding the teeth.
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