There’s no age limit for gum disease. Without proper care, your little ones can contract this painful ailment. While they may stay relatively safe the first few months out of the womb, once they contract decay-causing bacteria, they become susceptible to gum disease as well. Can children get gum disease, then? Yes, they can.
But just because they can don’t mean they have to. Of course, certain factors make children and adolescents more susceptible to gum disease than others. In teenagers, hormonal changes may disrupt the blood flow in their gums and make them more likely to swell. And in children, the thin enamel of their teeth makes them more vulnerable to bacterial attacks.
Handled well, however, this risk can lower significantly. And it can prevent any full-on flare-ups that can be damaging to their young bone structures.
That said, how can children get gum disease? And what can you do to avert it?
Gum disease in children begins with contamination
Previously, we talked about how parents can pass on bacteria to their children through shared saliva. This sharing isn’t limited to kissing your kids on the mouth. It also occurs when you share eating implements or when you blow on their food. And if the parents are prone to tooth decay and dental diseases, the more likely will the bacteria increase in their children.
The bacterial transmission doesn’t necessarily mean your child will get periodontal disease on the fly, however. Gum disease occurs when plaque build-up on the teeth grows to the point that it goes below the gumline. When this infiltration happens, it triggers your body’s immune response and causes your gums to swell.
One could then say that gum disease only occurs if there is a build-up of plaque to begin with. Babies who have yet to teethe, then, aren’t eligible for this type of ailment. But if their mouths have a high concentration of decay-causing bacteria, the faster they’ll manifest the disease once their teeth erupt.
In teens, hormones also play a role in this manifestation—particularly in women. During puberty, heightened hormone levels add more blood flow to the gums. This increased flow causes them to swell and become more sensitive to brushing and flossing. At this stage, a woman is more vulnerable to gum disease than men are and thus will need to keep to a solid oral health routine to prevent the condition from worsening.
Starting your kids’ oral hygiene early can nip gum disease in the bud
While the origins of gum disease aren’t exactly pleasant, knowing how it begins can help you plan a course of action. Here, time is of the essence. The earlier you implement preventive measures, the less likely your child contracts the disease.
At the core of it all is an excellent oral hygiene routine. Regular flossing, in particular, can substantially better the odds for your kids. By scouring between those hard-to-reach places, you lessen the points of contact for plaque build-up. And, of course, don’t forget to brush regularly with fluoride toothpaste. The combination of flossing and brushing proves fatal to build-up, which in turn makes it harder for gum disease to proliferate.