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Gingivitis Prevention and Treatment
As your child eats and drinks, microscopic food and beverage particles collect on the teeth, forming a sticky film called plaque. Over time, this plaque can harden into tartar, which can give the teeth a cakey, unsightly look and put your child at a higher risk for tooth decay and gingivitis. Plaque and tartar are dangerous because they can harbor large amounts of oral bacteria. As these bacteria feed on the simple sugars in your food, they produce acids that can erode dental enamel and toxins that can spark an inflammatory reaction in the gum tissue, referred to as gingivitis.
If left unchecked, gingivitis can progress into periodontitis, which can affect your child’s overall health. Keep an eye out for the signs of gingivitis, and make sure to seek treatment whenever it appears.
Signs of Gingivitis
Gingivitis is exceptionally common in children, which is one of the reasons parents should always be on the lookout for the signs. Here are just a few of the symptoms you should look for in your children.
Bad BreathIf your child struggles with recurrent bad breath, it could be a sign of gingivitis. The bacteria that cause gingivitis create volatile organic compounds as they reproduce, causing bad odors.
Red or Puffy Gum Tissue
Healthy gum tissue should look calm, smooth, and pink. If your child has gingivitis, their gum tissue may look inflamed or puffy, because swelling occurs as part of the inflammatory response.
Gums that Bleed Easily
Does your child ever complain about bleeding gums when they brush or floss? Gingivitis causes the gum tissue to bleed easily, which can be scary for children and signal the need for a trip to Lancaster Pediatric Dentistry.
Eventually, the gum tissue will start to retract in order to get away from the bacteria on the teeth, causing gum recession. When the gums recede, your child may complain about sensitivity to hot or cold foods, or their smile might look uneven.
Causes of Gingivits
Gingivitis in children has many causes, with the most common being problems with poor oral hygiene. However, kids whose diets lack vitamin C are also at a higher risk for the disorder. Ongoing medical conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, or autoimmune disorders can also cause gingivitis. Habits like clenching or grinding the teeth or breathing with the mouth open can also put children at risk for gingivitis, since the gums can become inflamed when they are dry or subjected to damage. Also, since saliva helps to wash away food particles and neutralize bacterial acids, parents should focus on making sure that their child drinks enough water every day. Genetics can also play a role in the formation of gingivitis in kids. If you, your spouse, or the child’s grandparents have gingivitis, your kids are more likely to develop the disease.
Progression of Gum Disease
Once your child develops gingivitis, the problem can continue to worsen if it isn’t treated immediately. Eventually, gingivitis can turn into periodontitis, which is marked by gum recession and severely inflamed gum tissue. Eventually, periodontitis can cause bone loss and damage to the ligaments that hold the teeth in place. Teeth can become loose, and the gum tissue can develop infections. If the condition isn’t treated, advanced periodontitis can develop, which causes tooth loss.
Gingivitis and Periodontal Disease Treatments
Fortunately, every stage of gum disease is treatable, from early gum inflammation clear to the advanced stages of periodontitis. Here are just a few of the treatments Lancaster pediatric dentist Dr. Jonathan Draney may recommend:
Better Oral Hygiene
Early gingivitis can be completely reversed by helping your child to take better care of their teeth. Help your child to brush twice a day with a soft bristled toothbrush and floss daily to eliminate grime between the teeth. Talk with your kid about proper rinsing and don’t forget to bring them in for their regular dental exams.
If your child has gingivitis, a deep dental cleaning may be necessary to eliminate plaque and tartar buildup. During these cleanings, the teeth will be gently scoured to remove buildup, and the surface of the teeth will be polished to prevent future problems.
Antibiotic rinses and topical ointments can also help to control gingivitis. These products are designed to kill the bacteria that causes gingivitis, helping the gum tissue to heal.
Pediatric dentists can also use a wide range of restorative dentistry techniques to help to rebuild a smile that has been damaged by periodontal disease.
Make an Appointment for Your Child Today!
If your child has any of the symptoms of gingivitis, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment today. Lancaster Pediatric Dentistry is dedicated to making dental visits easy, fun, and enjoyable for kids of all ages. Call today to schedule a checkup for your little one!