Gum Disease in Children

Posted in Dentist Cape Town / Kids

Gum Disease in Children

Many people think ofperiodontal diseaseas an adult problem. However, studies indicate that nearly all children and adolescents have gingivitis which is the first stage of periodontal disease.

There are several types of periodontal disease that children can get. Chronic gingivitisis common in children. It usually causes gum tissue to swell, turn red and bleed easily.Gingivitisis 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 periodontitiscan 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 periodontitismay 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.

Periodontitis associated with systemic diseaseoccurs in children and adolescents as it does in adults. Conditions that make children more susceptible to periodontal disease include type I diabetes, down syndrome, kindler syndrome, papillon-Lefevre syndrome. For example, in a survey of 263 Type I diabetics, 11 to 18 years of age, 10 percent had overt periodontitis.


The four basic signs that will alert you to periodontal disease in your child are bleeding, puffiness, recession and bad breath.

It is possible for periodontal disease to be passed from parents to childrenand between couples. Researchers suggest that the bacteria which causes periodontal disease may be passed from one person to another though saliva. This means that the common contact of saliva in families puts children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member. Genetics may also play a major rolein the onset and severity of periodontal disease. Researchers found that Up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to developing severe periodontal disease. Therefore, if one family member has periodontal disease, it is a good idea for all family members to see a dental professional for a periodontal disease screening.

Most gum disease in children can be prevented with the practice of proper oral hygiene. Kids need to brush their teeth daily with a kid-formula toothpaste that's approved by the American Dental Association (ADA). Children under the age of five don't have the small motor control they need to brush their teeth properly, so young children should have their teeth brushed once a day by an adult to make sure it's done properly.


Getting kids to brush their teeth for the recommended two to three minutes can be a bit of a challenge, so Colgate World of Care suggests putting a timer in the bathroom, equipping kids with a toothbrush that has a timer built in, or having them brush their teeth to the length of a two to three minute song.

When young children have spaces between their teeth, they don't need to worry about flossing. But once the gaps close and kids' teeth start to touch, they should floss daily, preferably before bedtime, to remove bacteria causing food particles that lurk between the teeth.

Regularly scheduleddental visitsare important to maintain the health of kids' gums, and also for the early detection of oral health problems. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children visit the dentist twice a year. Parents should also check their child's gums between dental visits to look for signs of periodontal disease.