What is gum disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection of the soft tissues and bones that surround and support the teeth. It is also known by its much more common name, gum disease. There are different stages of gum disease. The early stage, gingivitis, is a mild to moderate form of gum disease that affects only the soft tissues of the mouth and teeth. In more advanced stages of gum disease, the bones and supporting structures of the teeth become infected. If left untreated, this infection can eventually result in tooth loss.
What causes gum disease?
Gum disease can be caused by a variety of factors, including bacteria and plaque buildup in the mouth, smoking, hormonal shifts, some prescription medications, nutritional deficiencies, uneven teeth, and even genetics. In children and preteens, poor oral health, nutritional deficiencies, and hormonal shifts are often the culprits.
But bear in mind, none of these factors can, on their own, cause gum disease to develop and spread throughout the body. As long as your child maintains a rigorous and thorough oral hygiene routine, it will be extremely difficult for gum disease to establish a foothold and spread.
It is important that you help your child brush their teeth twice a day, beginning with their first tooth, and floss once a day once they have two teeth side by side. Most children don't have the proper dexterity to brush and floss properly until around the age of 10 so it is essential that you assist them with these tasks to prevent plaque build-up and the potential development of gum disease.
It's also key that you bring your child for routine professional dental care for a cleaning and to check for any emerging dental issues.
The Most Common Cause of Gum Disease
Other factors aside, gum disease is ultimately caused by the unimpeded development of bacteria and plaque in the mouth.
This is actually good news because it means that most of the time gum disease is easily prevented by a good oral hygiene routine. While the above-listed issues can increase the risk of gum disease (and make prevention more difficult), you have the power to instill good oral hygiene habits into your child that will carry them into adulthood—and hopefully set them up for a lifetime of good oral health!