Addressing gum disease in children with education and treatment in Brentwood

Gum disease is a dental condition that we most often think of as an adult problem. Children, on the other hand, are watched for things like cavities and misalignment. It is possible, however, to see gum disease in younger people. Children, especially adolescence, are at risk of infection in gum tissues and may develop chronic gingivitis or worse, periodontal disease.

Dr. Alkhoury is a Brentwood family dentist who works with patients of all ages to promote healthy teeth and gums. When a child is younger, we manage oral health through preventive care and parental education. The older a child is, the more hands-on he or she should be in oral hygiene practices.

Oral hygiene for the adolescent

Teens are at a greater risk for gum disease due to the biochemical changes that begin in adolescence. In puberty, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone fluctuate, sometimes dramatically. Increases in these hormones can cause the circulation of blood in the gums to elevate, thus making these tissues more reactive to irritants such as plaque or food particles. In adolescence, gums may become tender, red, and swollen.

As the body continues toward adulthood and hormones become more balanced, the reactivity of gum tissue will decrease. However, during the teen years, oral hygiene is incredibly important. Brushing and flossing should be performed daily, and professional dental care visits should be maintained at six-month intervals. If gum disease is detected early, we are more able to end infection with a professional cleaning and enhanced home care. Untreated gum disease, even in the teen patient, can lead to gum recession and loss of bone density.

How parents can help

The key factor in treating gum disease successfully is timing. Parents are encouraged to schedule check-ups for their family twice a year. Children who show signs of advanced periodontal disease may require more frequent visits, as well as evaluation for systemic health conditions. The most important thing a parent can do to help children avoid gum disease is to teach and encourage:

  • Good hygiene is vital to oral health, and children begin learning habits right away. Tooth brushing begins as soon as the first tooth erupts, and flossing begins as soon as two teeth develop side by side. Your dental team can provide tips on teaching and encouraging oral health based on your child’s age.

  • Children need role models in every part of life, including oral hygiene. When parents let their children see them taking good care of teeth, children learn a valuable lesson.

  • Regular dental care for the family helps build strong habits at home.

  • Parents should pay close attention to their child’s mouth. Younger children will tolerate having their teeth closely observed, whereas teens will shun such activity. You can detect oral problems in older children by viewing teeth and gums when they smile, and noticing breath. Chronic bad breath is a sign of gum disease.

Brentwood Family Dental offers gentle, compassionate care for patients of all ages. Contact our office at 925-344-5296 to schedule your check-up.

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