It’s common knowledge that brushing your teeth at least twice a day is the standard, but how often do we consider the health of our gums?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the tissues and bone that support the teeth. The mildest form of gum disease is called gingivitis, which can trigger tenderness, redness, or puffiness in the gums.
Over time, if not removed, plaque can harden into tartar, also known as calculus. Tarter destroys gum tissue, making gums bleed and move away from the teeth. This stage of gum disease is known as periodontitis. It is rare for teens but not unheard. And if left untreated, tooth loos is the eventual result!
Who develops gum disease?
Anyone can develop gum disease. However, some people are more likely to develop gum disease than others.
Factors that can lead to an increased likelihood of developing gum disease include:
- Being diagnosed with certain medical conditions such as diabetes and Down syndrome.
- Having gum disease “runs in the family”
- Practicing unhealthy habits such as not getting enough sleep, an imbalanced diet, or under considerable stress.
- Eating unhealthy food often and not brushing after eating
- Wearing braces, since food particles can get stuck in between the braces and the teeth.
- Being female – hormones play a part in gum health.
How can I help my child avoid gum disease?
Make sure your child brushes two times a day for two minutes each time. According to the American Dental Association, it only takes 24 hours for enough bacteria to build up in the mouth to begin causing gum disease!
Encourage your child to eat “happy teeth” foods. A healthy diet can decrease the risk of infection all over the body, including in the mouth.
Explain the importance of sleep. Getting enough sleep is important for the entire body. Tell your child why bedtime is important for overall health and well-being. This page can help. Also, limit television, video games, computer and smartphone use before bed, as these devices can impact the brain, keeping users awake longer.
Visit your child’s pediatric dentist regularly. Gum disease, in addition to other oral issues, may be undetectable to the average person. Gingivitis can typically be reversed by adopting better oral hygiene. However, periodontitis is much more difficult to control and may require surgery.