Periodontal disease is generally associated with adults and most people believe that periodontal disease as well as other major dental issues are strictly an adult problem.
This is not the case. Children and adolescents are also at risk of developing periodontal disease and associated health problems. When children have periodontal disease, signs and symptoms include bleeding gums, especially when brushing, swelling of gums, red and tender gums, receding gums, bone loss, and persistent bad breath.
Factors That Put Children at Risk for Developing Periodontal Disease
According to the American Academy of Periodontology, periodontal disease rarely occurs in young kids and is uncommon in teenagers. Hygiene, genetics, hormones, medications, and disease put you at greater risk for developing periodontal disease. The most frequent type of periodontal disease seen in children is gingivitis, which is the earliest stage (and only stage that is reversible) of periodontitis. Without dental treatment, gingivitis can and will progress to periodontal disease. While uncommon, there are certain factors that increase the risk of children developing juvenile periodontal disease. Juvenile periodontits affects the first permanent molars and incisors.
Genetic factors help determine whether children are at risk for developing periodontal disease. Research studies have shown that genetic factors increase the risk of developing periodontal health problems in children. Children of parents with periodontal disease have an increased risk of having the periodontal disease bacteria that can lead to increased gum infections. If one or both parents or a member of the family has or has had some form of periodontal disease, it is strongly recommended that these parents ensure their kids practice proper dental hygiene daily and visit the dentist regularly.
Teenagers – Effect Of Hormonal Changes
The risk of developing periodontal disease increases as children approach puberty. Teenagers experience increases in hormonal levels, which can promote hormonal periodontal disease. Hormones such as progesterone increase blood circulation to the gums making the tissue even more sensitive and easily irritated by plaque and bacteria that cause periodontal disease. Most teenagers also lack the motivation to practice proper dental care due to the pressure of growing up and the effect of these hormones. This increases the risk of periodontal disease such as ANUG (acute necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis) even more. Flaming red tissue, bleeding ulcerated tissue, pain, and gum recession are characteristic of ANUG. It is essential for adolescents to take good care of their teeth and visit the dentist regularly for periodontal evaluations.
Poor Dental Hygiene Maintenance
Poor dental hygiene maintenance puts children at increased risk of developing periodontal disease. When children do not take good care of their teeth and gums, plaque builds up and bacteria breaks it down causing periodontal health probelms. Teeth clenching and grinding increases the risk of periodontal disease in children. The best way to prevent periodontal disease in children and reduce the risk is to teach good dental care habits early in their lives. Since children copy their parents’ habits, so parents should also take proper care of their teeth.
Diseases and medications that Can Effect Periodontal Disease
-Diabetes, poor healing
-Asthma ( inhalers can cause oral tissue damage)
-Cancer and cancer therapies(radiation and chemotherapy can cause severe damage to oral tissues)
-autoimmune disease , poor healing
-some medications can cause tissue overgrowth, such as the anti-seizure medication, dilantin.
Forms Of Pediatric Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the and mildest stage of periodontal disease. It is the most common form of gum disease in children and adolescents. Chronic gingivitis may affect children and teens causing gums to swell, redden and bleed easily. Professional treatment and proper dental care is the way to treat and prevent this gum condition. If left untreated, gingivitis will progress and cause further damage to oral tissues.
Aggressive (Juvenile) periodontal disease is not common in children and adolescents, sometimes it can develop even in healthy children. It mostly affects the visible molars and incisors, and causes loss of the bone supporting the teeth without plaque or calculus formation.
Generalized aggressive periodontal disease is rare in children but less so in teens. This form of periodontal disease has serious symptoms including gum inflammation, calculus, plaque and loose teeth.
Advanced gum disease that contributes to systematic health conditions may also occur in children and teenagers. This type of periodontal disease is especially common in children with Down syndrome, Type 1 diabetes, Kinder Syndrome, and Papillon-Lefevre syndrome.
Since kids are at risk of developing periodontal health problems just like adults, it is important for parents to take good care of their children’s teeth and gums and instill in them a lifetime habit of proper dental care including brushing and flossing.
Understanding The Risks Can Help You To Help Your Child Fight Periodontal Disease
When kids start early, they will continue practicing proper oral care, hopefully carrying that habit into adulthood. It is essential for parents to ensure their children have regular dental checkups, periodontal health evaluations and professional cleaning. If a parent or member of the family has gum disease, it is especially important that other family members undergo a professional gum evaluation and take serious care and consideration of their teeth and gums.
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