Helping your child maintain healthy pearly whites is a lifelong process. Gingivitis, or gum disease, can affect children at any age. Left untreated, gingivitis can progress and eventually cause severe dental problems. Identifying this dental malady in the early stages can be difficult, especially for parents. Taking care of the problem promptly may help reverse some of the damage.
Fortunately, gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease, according to Boston Children's Hospital. Children may notice that their gums appear red, and tasks like brushing may be difficult because of tenderness and swelling. Bleeding may be common when your child attempts to brush or floss his teeth. However, some forms of gingivitis may cause no pain at all, while other forms of gingivitis may appear briefly with sudden pain.
The most common underlying factor in gingivitis in children is a lack of oral hygiene, according to the American Dental Association 3. Infrequent brushing and flossing can cause dental problems, along with a diet containing lots of sugary, processed foods. Some medications, along with conditions like diabetes, may also make children more susceptible to developing gingivitis. Children may also be born with a genetic predisposition to gingivitis. A dentist can help you and your child figure out the underlying causes of her gingivitis.
The best way to tackle gingivitis is to visit your dentist for a routine cleaning and check-up, according to the American Dental Association 3. Avoiding sugary or processed foods and drinks, brushing and flossing regularly and drinking plenty of water can prevent or reverse gingivitis, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Changing medications or managing underlying conditions causing gingivitis may also prove helpful. Brushing at least twice a day, or ideally after each meal, can stave off another gingivitis attack. Parents may want to supervise younger children to ensure they are brushing all teeth and not just the front teeth, according to KidsHealth 1.
Gingivitis is preventable and often reversible once it begins, but left untreated, it can progress into more severe damage that cannot be reversed. Ask your child's dentist about how he can prevent or reverse tooth and gum damage. Dental check-ups at least twice a year can help parents detect problems with a child's oral health.
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