While many people believe periodontal (gum) disease is an adult problem, studies indicate gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and adolescents. Advanced forms of periodontal disease are rarer in children, but can occur.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.
Early diagnosis is important for successful treatment of gum disease. Advanced forms of periodontal disease in children may be an early sign of other systemic disorders. The generalized aggressive periodontal disease may begin around puberty and involve the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus, plus normal changes. Eventually, it can cause the teeth to become loose due to the loss of dental bone.
You can check your child’s mouth for signs of periodontal disease, which include bleeding, swollen or bright red gums, gums that are receding (shrinking) away from the teeth, bad breath, or blood on the toothbrush. In our office, adolescent and teenage children regularly receive a periodontal examination as part of their routine dental visit.