Though oral hygiene sounds like a term only full-grown adults need to deal with, you’d be surprised at how vital proper teeth and gum care apply just as much with children.
Since they also have gums, kids are prone to gum disease such as gingivitis when they do not pay close attention to their pearly whites. While it is a milder form of periodontitis, food particles, saliva, and mucus can aggravate an infection that slowly erodes the gum line over time. That is not a dental emergency you or your kids want to deal with.
Here are eight shocking ways gum disease can happen to your kids so you can prevent them from ever happening:
Bad Oral Hygiene
Often, children dislike regular brushing and flossing of teeth because it interferes with playtime or snacktime. They don’t know that lack of oral hygiene is the primary cause of gum disease caused by plaque that has gathered teeth and gums. When plaque hardens, it can irritate and infect gums and teeth.
Illnesses, such as diabetes and autoimmune illnesses, put children at higher risk for gum disease. Diabetes causes blood vessel changes in the body, which reduces the flow of nutrients through the blood to certain parts of the body, including teeth and gums. This reduced blood flow and lack of nutrients weaken teeth and gums.
In the case of autoimmune diseases, prescription medicines that counteract these conditions often suppress one’s immune system. In turn, the body cannot produce white blood cells to deal with foreign bodies such as food, bacteria, and other pathogens.
Be sure to talk to your dentist about your family’s medical history to ensure you or your kids avoid a dental emergency caused by a comorbidity.
A side effect of certain prescribed medicines is dry mouth, where saliva production in the mouth drops drastically. Saliva is crucial for getting rid of plaque, bacteria, food particles; and balancing the mouth’s acidity levels.
Conversely, another side effect of medications is the abnormal growth of gum tissue, increasing the risk of gum disease. This is partly due to the gum line being much closer to the teeth, making bacteria and food particles latch onto their surface.
Much like the previous cause, breathing solely from one’s mouth causes dryness in the oral cavity and prevents saliva from washing particles away from teeth and gums.
A Sweet and Starchy Diet
Teach your kids to avoid sugary and starchy foodstuffs such as candy, bread, cake, and pastries. A diet lacking in nutrients and full of sugar increases the likelihood of gum disease because mouth bacteria enjoy munching on sugar and starch.
This diet also weakens the gums’ natural defenses against gingivitis as they might not get enough nutrients to ward off infections and heal properly.
Hormone shifts in a teenager’s body significantly increase blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive and irritable by plaque and food particles.
Grinding and Clenching
Teeth grinding and clenching can cause gum and tooth recession, making them more susceptible to gingivitis. It might be best to invest in a mouthguard if your child unknowingly grinds or clenches their teeth.
Like heart problems, diabetes, and psychiatric disorders, gum diseases are illnesses that can be inherited. Check with a relative or dentist concerning your family’s medical history so you can nip a dental emergency in its bud.
Don’t be fooled, parents. Gum disease can affect your kids too! Whether it’s through bad habits, medication side effects, or genetics, knowing what causes it goes a long way in keeping their pearly whites—well—pearly white and their gums in the peak of health.
Unsure if your kids have gum disease eating away at their mouths? Set an appointment with Dr. Thomas E. Cooke Family Dentistry right now! We’re a walk-in dentist in Raleigh, NC, with a full range of patient-oriented services through superior dental care!