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Gum disease can occur in children although the kind of problems faced are different from adults. Here is everything you want to know about gum disease in children its treatment, and prevention.

Gum disease, or Periodontal disease, is very widespread around the world. The conditions that lead to gingivitis and periodontitis are quite simple and require basically the presence of plaque and tartar on the teeth [1]. The slow nature of the progression of gum disease means that the advanced forms of gum disease are rare in children, however, gingivitis and a couple of other acute gingival diseases are easily found [2].

Children also suffer from gum diseases, show some of the same symptoms, and require bleeding gums treatment from time to time.

Gingivitis in children

Accumulation of plaque on the surface enforce teeth for two days starts to cause gingivitis [3]. In children, where the level of oral hygiene can be quite poor, gingivitis occurs very commonly. Some of the symptoms that will appear include bleeding from the gums, the presence of a sticky white substance on the surface of the teeth, a bad smell from the mouth, and the accumulation of tartar (calculus) on the teeth [4].

Signs of gum disease like the development of pockets around the teeth or the destruction of bone are extremely rare in children and do not appear unless there is some other modifying factor accelerating the rate of gum disease.

Gingivitis is pretty straightforward to prevent or reverse. Brushing the teeth regularly is all that is required. Children’s teeth should be brushed for them as soon as they appear in the mouth.

Not brushing the children’s teeth is never an option even if they are unable to spit the toothpaste out in the beginning. Use a brush without a toothpaste or use a starter toothpaste which can be swallowed in small quantities without any trouble.

The treatment of gingivitis is to get scaling done. The removal of plaque from the surface results in a reversal of the symptoms in just about 48-72 hours [5].

As children grow, the likelihood of needing braces also increases. During this time, gingivitis can become a major hindrance to the overall treatment if it is not controlled. The presences of metallic brackets on the teeth will make plaque control even more difficult and so oral hygiene maintenance has to be stricter during this time [6].

Gum disease in teenagers: aggressive periodontitis ​

A form of gum disease known as aggressive periodontitis can manifest itself in the teenage years as well [7].

Aggressive periodontitis is characterized by a rapid progression of gum disease. The destruction of bone around the teeth happens characteristically in the region of the molars and the central incisors. One of the findings that are commonly seen in such cases is that the level of plaque and calculus accumulation does not seem bad enough for the kind of destruction that is seen [8].

There is a definite genetic component that is seen in patients with aggressive periodontitis. There is also another form of aggressive periodontitis that affects almost all the teeth in the mouth which is usually associated with the presence of a syndrome in the child [9].

Loss of teeth is very common in aggressive periodontitis because by the time the disease is diagnosed or parents seek treatment the teeth have been affected beyond saving.

The treatment of aggressive periodontitis requires the patient to undergo gum surgery in the affected areas. Use of bone grafts, membranes, and other bone augmentation techniques is commonly done in an effort to save the teeth [10].

Since aggressive periodontitis is genetic in nature and progresses so rapidly, the affected individuals must be very strict with their dental care. A checkup every three months after the treatment has been completed is necessary to ensure that the spread of the disease has been stopped.

A scaling every six months after should be a lifelong habit for people with aggressive periodontitis.

The reality is that even with all of these measures in place, aggressive periodontitis is going to claim more teeth as the years go by. The replacement of teeth must be done keeping in mind the lifespan of the supporting teeth as well as the increased likelihood of failure of dental implants.

The use of long-term low dose anti-inflammatory drugs to help modulate the response of the body’s immune system has also shown encouraging results. 

In the case of aggressive periodontitis, it can often be like bringing in the cavalry to stave off a break-in at the grocery store. The idea here is to minimize destruction by ensuring the body’s response to a minor infection is appropriate and not over exuberant.

Conclusion

Gum disease in children is limited to gingivitis for the vast majority of the population. This is also somewhat self-limiting as the children become more dexterous and better aware of the need for good oral hygiene.

For the small percentage of children that do suffer from advanced stages of gum disease, the road is long and filled with dentists visits. The good news, though, is that treatment options have increased and a better rehabilitation can now be done than a decade or so ago.

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