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What Are The Warning Signs Of Periodontal Disease In Children And Teenagers?

It’s a scary but true fact that many adults have at least the beginning stages of periodontal disease – about 47% according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In some of these cases, gum disease or periodontal disease might start during childhood or adolescence. And that’s where Dental Town comes into play. At each of our offices, we offer pediatric and adult dentistry services for healthy mouths.

To the extent of periodontal disease, we keep an eye out for common warning signs in children and teenagers. And that’s precisely what we’ll talk about in this article.


Are there different types of periodontal disease? Is gum disease serious?

root-canal-squarePeriodontal disease is actually the advanced form of gum disease. That means, if gum disease isn’t caught early on and treated properly, it can progress to periodontal disease.

Different types of gum and periodontal diseases exist in children and teenagers including:

  • Chronic gingivitis — Gingivitis is the beginning phase of gum disease. It is preventable with regular brushing, flossing, and professional cleanings. Gingivitis should be treated right away before it progresses into something more serious.
  • Aggressive periodontitis — This type of disease typically affects the first molars and incisors. The main characteristic is the severe loss of alveolar bone.
  • Generalized aggressive periodontitis — This may begin during puberty and it can cause the teeth to become loose.

These types of periodontal and gum diseases possess different characteristics and warning signs that can show up any time throughout childhood and the teenage years. So it’s important to look out for warning signs of gum disease as well as warning signs of periodontal disease.

In a moment we’ll talk about these warning signs, but first let’s talk about some risk factors of periodontal disease in kids.


Are kids at risk for periodontal disease? Who gets it?

Risk factors of periodontal disease in kids include:

  • Consuming snacks throughout the day, especially if you cannot brush and floss your teeth soon after
  • Consuming too much sugar without brushing your teeth soon after
  • Eating starchy foods (i.e. french fries) very often, which can create a lot of acid that will destroy tooth enamel
  • Having orthodontic braces and not being able to thoroughly clean your teeth
  • Having diabetes, Down Syndrome, or other medical conditions which can increase the risk of periodontal disease
  • Consuming certain medications that may increase the risk of gum disease or periodontal disease
  • Consuming an unhealthy diet that can lead to a higher risk of gum infection
  • Smoking tobacco products, which is the leading cause of gum disease

(source: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gum-disease.html)

In addition to these risk factors, it is important to note that “girls have a higher risk of gum disease than guys (source: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gum-disease.html).”

Other than these risk factors, what are the warning signs of periodontal disease that kids, parents, and guardians should look out for? That’s next.


Typical warning signs of periodontal disease

Treating gum disease before it progresses to periodontal disease is important to prevent more serious dental issues.

So always be aware of what’s going on in your mouth and be sure to teach your kids to do the same. You should never ignore signs of potential issues in the hopes that issues will just go away by themselves.

Classic signs of periodontal disease include:
gum-disease-square

  • Inflamed gums
  • Sensitive gums
  • Swollen gums
  • Receding gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Purple or bright red gums
  • Mouth sores that won’t go away
  • Consistent bad taste in the mouth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Changes in the way the teeth fit together when biting down
  • Spaces between the teeth that develop over time
  • Pus appearing between the teeth and gum line (referred to as pyorrhea)

You may notice any of these symptoms while brushing and flossing your teeth. Be sure to let your dentist know if you notice any warning signs of periodontal or gum disease. It is extremely important to seek treatment right away instead of procrastinating.


Treatment options for periodontal disease in children and teenagers

Take your child to the pediatric dentist as soon as possible if you notice any warning signs. Pediatric dentists, including our experienced dentists at Dental Town, are trained to treat gum disease and periodontal disease.

Some treatment methods include:

  • Scaling or root planing — This is a deep cleaning process that involves removing the plaque and tartar from the tooth’s surface and from below the gum line.
  • Antibiotics — Antibiotics may be prescribed in addition to the scaling or root planing procedure. Antibiotics kill the bacteria and prevent it from spreading to your body. This allows the gums to heal.
  • Surgery — This is sometimes needed during advanced stages of periodontitis.
  • Gingival grafting — This type of gum graft replaces diseased gum tissue with healthy gum tissue.

(source: http://kidshealth.org/en/teens/gum-disease.html)

If caught early on, gingivitis is reversible, but is it possible to prevent this disease? Is it possible to prevent this serious disease so your kids don’t have to suffer from periodontal disease?

Short answer: yes. Longer answer: next.


Is it possible to prevent periodontal disease? How?

doctor-and-kidYour child or teenager can prevent periodontal disease. You as a parent or a guardian are also partly responsible for teaching your kids about warning signs and about proper oral care habits.

Part of this responsibility is letting them know how to prevent serious oral diseases and problems. Ways to prevent periodontal disease include:

  • Brushing your teeth 3-4 times per day, especially soon after consuming sugary foods/beverages and starchy foods. Every time your child brushes his or her teeth, be sure they are doing so for at least 3 minutes each time
  • Flossing your teeth 1-2 times per day.
  • Getting your teeth professionally cleaned once every six months.
  • Using a fluoride mouth rinse if the pediatric dentist recommends.
  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush that won’t irritate the gums.
  • Replacing worn-out toothbrushes every 3-4 months.
  • Avoiding tobacco products.
  • Eating a healthy diet and consuming a lot of water.

All of these habits promote healthy teeth and gums. Be sure that your son or daughter is properly caring for their mouths.


Live in Alpharetta, Johns Creek, Suwanee, Cumming, or Canton? Call Dental Town!

If you suspect that your child has periodontal disease or the early signs mentioned above, call Dental Town. We have 4 locations and you can find all of our office details here.

Additionally, contact details for each office can be found on the following page: http://www.dentaltownsmiles.com/contact-us/

We look forward to serving you!