baby gums

Tips for Keeping Your Child’s Gums Healthy

Your child’s dental health doesn’t start when their first tooth erupts, but begins as soon as they’re born. Even though your child may not yet have teeth, they do have gums which means keeping their gums healthy begins immediately. By following these tips, you can ensure that your child will have strong dental health setting them up for future oral success.

Clean the Gums

Even though it may not yet be time to start brushing your child’s teeth, that doesn’t mean that it’s too early to work on their gums. Before the teeth start to come in, you should be cleaning your child’s gums. This will keep harmful bacteria from spreading throughout your child’s mouth and will help to relieve some of the soreness caused by teething. To clean your child’s gumline, dip a clean piece of gauze in water and wrap it around your index finger. Then gently rub the finger along the gums of your child at least once a day, but preferably after each meal. If the child is teething, you can wet the corner of the gauze and place it in the freezer. This will numb the soreness felt by your child during this period.

Avoid Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Tooth decay can be a big problem for children as they advance in age. Baby bottle tooth decay is caused when sugary liquids are left in the mouth for an extended period of time or if a child falls asleep with a bottle in their mouth. To avoid this problem, it’s important to never let your child go to bed with a bottle in their mouth.

Even though baby teeth eventually fall out, it’s important to keep tooth decay away from your child. If you child’s baby teeth fall to decay, they may need to be removed. If this is done before they are meant to come out, the permanent teeth that follow will lose their guiding teeth as they come in. This could cause issued such as crowding which could result in expensive orthodontic work in the future.

Brushing Away Decay

You should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as their first tooth appears. At this point, the amount of toothpaste you use should be about the size of a grain of rice and, as your child may be too young to spit the toothpaste out, it should be safe to swallow. You can purchase toothpaste for your child that is made for this specific purpose. It’s also important that you brush your child’s teeth twice a day. This will help keep those gums healthy as they get older.

Avoid Sugary Foods

When your child consumes sugary foods, it creates the ideal environment for bacteria to collect. This warm and moist environment can lead to gingivitis and tooth decay over time. Typically, your child will begin eating solid foods at about six months of age so good choices for your child’s oral health are sugar-free foods such as soft, cooked carrots and mashed sweet potatoes. These foods will satisfy your child’s sweet tooth while helping them to avoid gum disease.

Dental Visits

Your child should have their first dental appointment by the time they reach their first birthday. They then should follow up with appointments every six months from then on. By regularly visiting the dentist, you can be alerted of any bad habits that you may be practicing or any problems that may be affecting your child’s gums.

Keeping your child’s teeth and gums healthy are crucial, not only for their current dental health, but for their future dental health. Your child’s baby teeth serve as a guide for when their permanent teeth to come in. If the baby teeth come out before they should, the permanent teeth could come in the wrong place, filling in where the baby tooth vacated rather than pushing out the existing baby tooth, and could result in issues such as overcrowding. This could cause orthodontic problems in the future. Gum disease is a problem that affects nearly half of Americans over the age of 30 and is something that often starts well before then. You can help your child stay away from gum disease by starting good oral health habits early. These tips will help you get your child’s dental health off on the right foot. If you are looking for a pediatric dentist to assist in your child’s dental health, come to Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida.

sugary foods, gum disease

Gum Disease: The Result of Sugary Foods

We often think of gum disease as a condition exclusive to adults, but this is not the case. Teenagers and even younger children are at risk for gum disease or its milder form, gingivitis, which may require a gum disease treatment for kids. Cases of gum disease in individuals under 18 can add to the estimated 50 percent of adults who have the disease if they are not treated correctly, according to the American Dental Association.

Generally speaking, gum disease is an inflammation of the gum line that can progress to affect the bone that surrounds and supports your teeth. The three stages of gum disease, from last to most severe, are gingivitis, periodontitis, and advanced periodontitis. The signs and symptoms vary, and gum disease can also be painless. This is why it’s important to be aware of any symptoms including swollen, red, tender, or bleeding gums; gums that recede or move away from the tooth; persistent bad breath or a bad taste in the mouth; loose teeth; or visible pus surrounding the teeth and gums.

What Is Gum Disease in Children?
Gum disease is a condition caused by bacteria and food debris that build up on teeth and form a sticky film known as plaque. As the plaque hardens, it forms tartar, and more plaque continues to form. Ultimately, this results in the gums becoming swollen and red. As it worsens, it can cause teeth to become loose because of the damage it causes to the soft issue and bone underneath the teeth. It’s not very common for children to have a serious form of gum disease, but it is common for them to develop a mild form of it called gingivitis.

Types of Periodontal Diseases in Children
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It usually causes gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily. It is both preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing and professional dental care. However, left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease.

Aggressive periodontitis can affect young people who are otherwise healthy. Localized aggressive periodontitis is found in teenagers and young adults and mainly affects the first molars and incisors. It is characterized by the severe loss of alveolar bone, and ironically, patients generally form very little dental plaque or calculus.

Generalized aggressive periodontitis may begin around puberty and involve the entire mouth. It is marked by inflammation of the gums and heavy accumulations of plaque and calculus. Eventually it can cause the teeth to become loose.

The earliest symptoms of gum disease are puffy, swollen or red gums. They will bleed easily during brushing and flossing. Chronic bad breath that doesn’t go away with brushing or flossing is a sign as well. As the disease progresses, your child may develop teeth that may wiggle, and the gums may develop pockets where plaque will continue to develop below the gums around the teeth.

Teenagers can begin to develop issues with their gums during puberty. The rise in progesterone and possibly estrogen leads to an increase in blood flow to the gums, making them more sensitive, states the American Academy of Periodontology. For children, the main cause of gingivitis is usually poor dental hygiene. However, certain diseases can increase a child’s risk, including Kindler syndrome, type 1 diabetes, Down syndrome and Papillon–Lefèvre syndrome, to name a few. Genetics can increase your child’s risk as well, so be sure to tell your kid’s dentist if there’s a family history of gum disease.

Treatment and Prevention
The first step in preventing your child from getting gum disease is to encourage good dental hygiene. Your child should brush his teeth at least twice a day. Additionally, establishing a good habit of flossing once per day will help. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, your child should start seeing the dentist by his first birthday. Once your child sees the dentist for the first time, you should continue to schedule an appointment every 6 months for a checkup and cleaning. Make sure you act as a good role model by taking care of your teeth, too.

If your child develops a mild form of gingivitis, it can be treated through professional dental cleanings and by developing a good oral hygiene regimen. But a gum disease treatment for kids might be necessary if the condition worsens, which could include deep cleaning, an oral rinse, antibiotics or other medications. In more advanced stages, surgery may be necessary.

Pediatric Dentistry of Central Florida is here to help you and your child prevent these sorts of diseases, especially gum disease at such a young age. When it’s time for your child’s next dental checkup, be sure to contact us to schedule an appointment!