Getting Back to Gum Care: Understanding How Gum Disease May Impact Your Child

October 10, 2020

Between braces, mouthguards, and reminding their young ones to brush for two minutes every morning and night, it is unsurprising that most parents are primarily concerned with their children’s teeth.

But one’s teeth are only one cog in the proverbial oral machine, and when one cog falls out of alignment, so too will the others.

At the end of the day, your child’s teeth are not the only factor deserving of care and attention, which is why we’d like to take a second to refocus on their gums.

How Early Can My Child Experience Gum Disease?

While unusual, it is not impossible for infants to contract gingivitis or mild gum disease. In these cases, however, they would have to come into contact with the saliva of another person who has already contracted gum disease. For instance, by sharing silverware with your baby, or letting them put their fingers in your mouth, they may unwittingly catch the bacteria that would otherwise not naturally occur in their mouths yet.

Otherwise, gum disease risk and complications can begin at any point during childhood, particularly if gum disease runs in your family or your child eats an abundance of sugar-heavy foods.

In short, no child is “too young” to be vulnerable to oral bacteria that erodes their gum health. Thus, we recommend you begin teaching your child oral hygiene habits as early as possible and use gauze or gentle washcloths to wipe your infant’s gums.

How Do I Know If My Child Has Gum Disease?

“Generalized aggressive periodontitis may begin around puberty and involve the entire mouth,” the American Academy of Periodontology explains. “It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus.”

In other words, redness and discomfort of your child’s gums are the two most common signs to look for. Particularly if their gums begin to bleed while flossing or brushing, they likely are dealing with inflammation that is indicative of the early stages of gum disease, otherwise known as gingivitis.

Take note, however, that not all patients experience pain or discomfort as a result of bacteria on their gums. This is one of the reasons it is important for you to bring your child in for their regular oral screenings and cleanings, as their dentist and hygienist will be able to tell if their gums require further attention.

How Do I Help My Child Manage/Treat Gum Disease?

While gum disease may sound frightening, the good news is that it is generally easy to prevent and treat so long as it is caught early.

“Gingivitis can be controlled and treated with good oral hygiene and regular professional cleaning,” the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) explains. “More severe forms of periodontal disease can also be treated successfully but may require more extensive treatment.”

In all, the best treatment method is prevention, and that starts with you: the parent! By teaching your child healthy habits and investing in proper dental and orthodontic care as early as possible, you’re setting your family up for a lifetime of wellness and healthy smiles.

And if your child needs further help or guidance in properly cleaning their teeth and gums — particularly if they’re struggling to work around their braces or other orthodontic appliances — then it’s time to reach out to SouthShore Orthodontics!

Our mission is to provide exceptional results in a welcoming environment for the whole family, and we guarantee you are in the best possible care while in our office. To learn more or schedule your appointment today, call our office at (813) 815-0080!