Pediatric Gingivitis & Gum Disease
The word gingivitis means the inflammation of gums and that is what the main symptom of the disease is. Gingivitis is the early stage of gum disease when gums are red, irritated, and even swollen. When gums are healthy, they are usually pink and only bleed occasionally after brushing or flossing. When gingivitis is present, gums will bleed for more than a week and require treatment from a dentist. You may even notice chronic bad breath from the bacteria when gingivitis is present in your child’s mouth. Without an intervention by a dentist, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, tooth loss, gum loss, and bone loss.
When bacteria causing plaque settle along the gum line and form a film that hardens and is not properly removed by brushing and flossing, the gums become irritated. The combination of tartar and toxins from the bacteria cause chronic gum inflammation, leaving you with gum disease. It is normal for you to have plaque in your mouth, but the proper brushing and flossing each day should be able to remove it before it becomes problematic. As the gums remain inflamed, the gums start to separate from the teeth. Little pockets develop and create spaces for more bacteria to live and grow without disruption. Gum disease develops more easily in young children and older adults. Also, children with orthodontic appliances like braces and aligners will be more likely to have problems with gingivitis.
If you worry that your child has gingivitis but you do not think that poor dental hygiene is to blame there are some other reasons why gingivitis developed. First, insufficient vitamin c or vitamin k in the diet can leave the gums more susceptible to bacteria. Next, if your child grinds their teeth or clenches their jaw while they sleep, they may be damaging their teeth and opening the opportunity for bacteria to cause gingivitis. Furthermore, certain medical conditions and diseases suppress immune responses to plaque causing bacteria so diabetes or autoimmune diseases may be to blame. Much like pregnant women who struggle with huge hormonal changes, children with hormonal changes can be more likely to struggle with inflammation in all their tissues. Depending on your child’s health, their necessary medications may be allowing gingivitis to cause a problem. Finally, if you child regularly breaths through their mouth, their front teeth and gums may be too dry to properly protect themselves against gingivitis.
If you think your child has gingivitis based on some of the symptoms, then you must make an appointment for treatment with the dentist. The dentist will be able to treat it, stop it from getting worse, and even help reverse some of the damage caused by the gingivitis. No matter what, be sure to keep brushing their teeth and flossing while working with them on improving their technique to reduce the likelihood that they will need gingivitis treatment again. The dentist may be able to eradicate the gum disease with a general cleaning to remove the tartar from the gum line but the dentist may need to recommend more serious treatment like deep cleaning or root planing and scaling.