Adolescence and Oral Care Gum disease is not for adults only. It can happen at any age, even to children and adolescents. Although advanced forms of periodontal disease are rare in children, the early stage (gingivitis) is common. The good news is, gum disease is preventable. The earlier a child
To minimize the occurrence of gum disease, parents and caregivers have an important role to play. They should teach the children early on about the importance of brushing, flossing and regular visits to the dentist. When good oral health habits are practiced at an early age, it is more likely that it will continue throughout their adult years.
Periodontal disease is treatable but early diagnosis is important. Include periodontal examination in your child’s next dental visit to catch the disease early on. There are two types of periodontitis that can affect children and adolescents.
• Young children can be affected with localized aggressive periodontitis which is characterized by severe loss of alveolar bone and very little dental plaque or calculus.
• Adolescents can be affected with generalized aggressive periodontitis which is characterized by inflamed gums and heavy buildup of plaque and calculus. This condition can make teeth become loose.
If your child has severe or advanced form of periodontal disease, there may be an underlying systemic disease. Have your child evaluated by doctors to get to the root of the problem. Take note that children who have Type I diabetes, Down syndrome or Papillon-Lefevre syndrome are more prone to periodontal or gum disease.
To prevent gum disease in children and adolescents, parents can start teaching them the importance of good oral hygiene at age two. Use pea-sized fluoride toothpaste on children under seven. Using fluorinated water can also help.
Setting a good example is also very important. The children must see their parents actually practicing good oral hygiene habits so they have a role model to follow.