Gum disease, called periodontal disease in dentist-speak, isn’t just limited to adults. According to recent studies, gum disease is an increasing problem among children of all ages.
Check out these sobering statistics:
- Over 85% of American adults have gum disease
- Approximately 66% of young adults have gum disease
- About 50% of children under the age of 18 have gum disease
- 12% of 3-year-old children have gum disease
- The most common cause of tooth loss in adults is periodontal disease
- Next to trauma, gum disease is the second most common form of tooth loss in children
How to Recognize Gum Disease in Your Child
If your child’s gums are shiny, tender and/or red; if they bleed easily; if they appear swollen, it may indicate gum disease. Children often experience pain while eating, so take note if your child complains about pain in his or her mouth at mealtime or when brushing.
How to Prevent Gum Disease in Your Child
1. The most common cause of gum disease, in both children and adults, is poor oral hygiene. It’s imperative that, from the earliest age, children’s gums and teeth are brushed and flossed at least twice daily. Until your child is at least 6 years old, he or she needs your assistance in brushing and flossing to develop skills in this area. As your child grows, supervision of brushing and flossing remains an important bedtime ritual to be certain your child’s gums and teeth are adequately cleaned. Studies show that flossing cleans 35% of the teeth’s’ surfaces!
2. Regular twice-yearly visits to your pediatric dentist are essential. Thorough examination will catch problems early on, and regular dental cleaning will eliminate the growth of tartar on the teeth, a main contributor to gum disease.
3. Do not share bacteria from your mouth with your child by licking pacifiers, eating off shared utensils or drinking from the same cup. Gingivitis can be passed from person to person through the saliva.
4. Notify us if your child grinds his or her teeth, as grinding increases the risk of gum disease.