Children’s Gum Disease

smiling group of teenagersAccording to the latest research, gum disease affects over half of the adult population in the United States. It can also affect your children if they don’t follow good hygiene practices, and if not treated, the infection can destroy the tissues and bone that support their teeth. Gum disease may not be as prominent in children as it is in adults, but it’s equally dangerous for all patients who hesitate to treat it. As February marks National Children’s Dental Health Month, sponsored by the American Dental Association (ADA), your San Diego periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania, explains that cavities aren’t the only reason for you to be concerned about your child’s smile.

Types of Gum Disease in Children

Chronic gingivitis

Gingivitis is the earliest, and most common, stage of gum disease in children and adults alike. It begins when oral bacteria (found in dental plaque) gather along your gum line, leading to an infection. As gingivitis develops, it causes gum tissue to swell with inflammation and occasionally bleed. Gum disease’s earliest stage can be prevented with diligent hygiene and professional care, and it can be reversed if you visit your periodontist before it develops into a more serious form of gum disease.

Aggressive periodontitis

As gum disease matures, it can develop into aggressive periodontitis (AP), which can affect young people who are otherwise healthy. Older teens and young adults with AP may experience severe loss of alveolar bone often around the incisors and first molars.

Generalized aggressive periodontitis

Generalized aggressive periodontitis (GAP) is similar to AP, but involves the entire mouth rather than a specific area of it. GAP is marked by severe inflammation and bleeding, as well as gum recession (gums separating from your teeth), and if not treated, it can eventually lead to tooth loss as it destroys your jawbone.

The Importance of Hygiene

The bacteria responsible for gum disease are always present in your mouth, and controlling their numbers and composition is the most effective means of preventing an infection. A vulnerable immune response appears to play a role in aggressive forms of periodontitis. Brushing and flossing their teeth at least twice a day, and after meals whenever possible, will help your child keep oral bacteria under control. Dental checkups and cleanings will allow a professional to inspect your child’s dental health and spot signs of trouble early.

About Your San Diego Periodontist:

As a board-certified periodontist, Dr. Ann Kania is specially qualified to diagnose and treat issues concerning periodontal tissue and the supportive structures of a patient’s smile, as well as place dental implants for patients with missing teeth. To seek Dr. Kania’s expertise, visit our office or contact us today at (760) 642-0711.