Learning to Take Better Care of Your Family's Teeth

Children and Periodontal Disease: Risk Factors, Symptoms, and Treatment Options

Taking care of your teeth is one of the most important things you can do. You only get one set, and if you do not treat them right you will have dental problems. One problem you should be aware of is periodontal disease. You often hear that gum disease happens to adults, but children can also have this problem. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection that can destroy your child's gums, as well as tissue close to the gums. Periodontal disease is also referred to as gum disease. Below are some risk factors and symptoms of gum disease as well as two treatment options for your child.

Periodontal Disease Risk Factors and Symptoms

There are many risk factors for gum disease, including the following:

  • Breathing through the mouth which leads to drying of your gums
  • Diabetes
  • Hormonal changes like when going through puberty
  • Certain medications
  • Poor diet
  • Autoimmune diseases like cystic fibrosis and sickle cell anemia

The main symptoms of gum disease include the following:

  • Red, inflamed gums
  • Bleeding while brushing teeth
  • Tender gums
  • Bad breath
  • Pain when chewing
  • Gums receding from your child's teeth

Scaling and Planing Treatment

Gum disease cannot be cured but it is treatable. If you catch this in the early stages it is much easier to do so, however. If your child is in the early stages, the dental hygienist will do procedures known as scaling and root planing.

Scaling and root planing are not very painful procedures, but your hygienist will give your child a local anesthetic to numb their gums before the procedures are started. The scaling process involves removing plaque, tartar deposits, and the infection from the gums and root surfaces. Once this is finished, the hygienist will do the planing procedures. This involves using a special device to smooth rough areas on the surface of the root. This is important because a smooth surface prevents bacteria from building up and plaque and tartar from growing back. These things find it difficult to adhere to a smooth surface.

After this procedure, your child's gums will be numb until the anesthetic wears off. Once they are no longer numb, your child may feel a little pain in their gums.

While your child's gums are healing the gums become pink and firm again. There will be much less bleeding while brushing, or there may be no blood at all. Pockets also get much smaller.

Seeing a pediatric dentist specifically is beneficial because they are trained to work with children.