Gum disease is very common among Canadian adults, but many people don’t realize that children can get this oral health disease as well. Here, our Calgary dentists explain how this happens and what can be done to prevent it.
What is gum disease?
Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the oral cavity that affects not only the gums, but also the teeth, and in severe cases, the supporting jaw bone as well.
The earliest, and mildest, stage of gum disease is called gingivitis, and this is the form that is most common in children and teens.
Gum disease is caused by plaque buildup as a result of poor oral hygiene, a common problem in children. Plaque is a sticky film that develops on teeth when bacteria isn't regularly or sufficiently cleaned away. Over time, the plaque buildup will harden into tartar, and this will infect the gums, causing them to become red and swollen.
Gum disease can have many different symptoms, depending on what stage it’s in. The earliest symptoms are mild compared to advanced symptoms, but still inconvenient and uncomfortable, and indicative of more serious problems to come.
Early symptoms include:
- Inflamed or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums during flossing
- Bad breath
If gum disease develops unchecked and untreated, eventually more severe symptoms will occur.
Advanced symptoms include:
- Receding gums
- Periodontal pockets (space between the gums and teeth)
- Painful chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Loose teeth (which may eventually fall out)
Preventing Gum Disease in Children
Gum disease is easy to prevent in both children and adults. It probably won’t surprise you to learn that the key to preventing gum disease from developing in the first place is good oral hygiene!
Good oral hygiene includes a thorough at-home brushing and flossing routine and regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and checkups.