While many people believe periodontal disease as an adult problem, studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and adolescents. Advanced forms of periodontal disease are rare in children, but can occur.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.
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 become loose.
Conditions that make children more susceptible to periodontal disease include:
- Type I Diabetes
- Down Syndrome
- Papillon-Lefevre Syndrome
An important step in the fight against periodontal disease is to establish good oral health habits with your child early. Serve as a good role model by practicing good oral health care habits yourself and schedule regular dental visits for family check-ups, periodontal evaluations, and cleanings.
Check your child's mouth for the signs of periodontal disease, including bleeding gums, swollen and bright red gums, gums that are receding away from the teeth, and bad breath.
If your child currently has poor oral health habits, work with your child to change these now. It's much easier to modify these habits in a child than in an adult. Since your child models behavior after you, it follows that you should serve as a positive role model in your oral hygiene habits. A healthy smile, good breath, and strong teeth all contribute to a young person's sense of personal appearance, as well as confidence and self-esteem. Sometimes we may suggest more frequent cleanings to partner in the patient’s success.