One of the most common dental issues people face, whether they’re children or adults, is gingivitis. With children, this can be a particularly difficult problem to deal with. The average child isn’t going to tell their parent they have gingivitis, and they likely won’t even notice a problem.
As a parent, it’s up to you to prevent gingivitis and keep an eye on your child’s dental health to identify it if it does develop.
Today, we’re going to go over what gingivitis is, how you can identify it, and what you can do to aid in preventing gingivitis in children.
What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is a form of gum disease. It’s a mild form of it, but it is still serious, and it needs to be handled appropriately whenever you notice it.
It’s characterized by swollen and puffy gums along the gum line, painful irritation, and signs of infection. It can be extremely painful, or it can be barely noticeable in terms of pain. Look for these signs regularly to identify if it’s becoming a problem.
Usually, this is caused by plaque being allowed to sit on the teeth, and it starts to fill in the tight space between the gum line and the tooth. This causes an infection eventually, and it lasts up to a couple of weeks in serious cases.
In the worst-case scenario, it can worsen and turn into periodontal disease which can actually be life-threatening.
More than 200,000 individuals develop gingivitis every year in the United States. That figure includes children and adults. However, it is most commonly found in people between the ages of 15 and 35.
This can be helpful, because it means that your child is unlikely to develop it at an early age when they’re less likely to communicate oral problems they’re having effectively. A 15-year-old can typically tell you when something is bothering them and help you understand the symptoms for proper identification.
However, even older children are still kids, and it’s important that you know how to identify gingivitis whenever they complain about an oral issue.
What Causes Gingivitis?
Gingivitis can be caused by a lot of things, and that’s part of why it’s so common. Vitamin C deficiencies, age, chronic dry mouth, smoking and chewing tobacco, and other things can all cause it. However, poor oral hygiene is the number one source of it.
This is especially true in children since age obviously isn’t an issue, deficiencies aren’t too common, and your child hopefully isn’t using any age-restricted products. The most likely reason your child will suffer from gingivitis at an early age is poor oral hygiene.
That’s a good thing because it’s the easiest problem in the list of potential causes for you to deal with.
How to Prevent Gingivitis in Children
Since your child is most likely to develop gingivitis due to hygiene problems, the most effective way to prevent it is to start instilling good oral hygiene habits into them early.
In fact, it’s optimal to start before they even have teeth by gently rubbing the gums and cleaning their gums and first teeth with training toothpaste as early as a couple of months of age.
However, the tips we’re going to go over are going to be most relevant for children over the age of 2.
While your child is unlikely to develop gingivitis before 15, it’s the foundational habit-building and dental care during their earlier years that sets them up to prevent it in the future.
Let’s get started.
1: Brush with Fluoride Toothpaste Properly
First and foremost, good fluoride toothpaste and solid brushing habits are crucial.
Every pediatric dentistry specialist worth their salt will tell you that your child should be taught to brush their teeth for 2 minutes at a time two or three times per day. This will remove the majority of plaque that builds up on their teeth throughout the day, and it’s the most basic form of dental care.
The toothpaste used, regardless of what age they are, should be ADA-approved, free of abrasive materials, and enhanced with fluoride.
Using this type of toothpaste usually starts at the age of 2, and once the habit of brushing regularly is developed, it should continue for their entire lifetime.
Remember that gingivitis is caused mostly by plaque building up and working its way into the gum line. Well, brushing doesn’t get rid of all the plaque. Plaque can build up between teeth and seep into the gum line even if you brush properly.
This is what flossing is for.
Around the age of 3, or whenever you start using normal toothpaste, and the child more or less knows how to brush their teeth regularly, integrating flossing into their hygiene routine is crucial.
When done properly, this is perfectly safe, and it removes the plaque and food debris between teeth that can enter the gum line.
Just make sure to properly supervise your child during their hygiene routine while they’re younger. Not only can you make sure they’re not flossing too hard or consuming floss, but you can also prevent accidents caused by eating toothpaste and doing other things that kids end up doing when unsupervised.
3: Mouth Wash
Mouthwash is an effective tool not only for cleaning between teeth and within crevices but also for maintaining the health of the gum line, particularly in preventing gingivitis in children.
Incorporating rinsing with mouthwash into each dental hygiene session can play a crucial role in keeping a child’s gum line healthy and free from inflammation.
4: Avoid Foods and Drinks that Promote Plaque Build Up
Every kid loves sweets and soda, but it’s important to limit how much they consume. This is not only better for their general health, but it’s also going to help prevent gingivitis and other serious oral health problems.
5: See A Pediatric Dentist Regularly
The biggest thing you can do to prevent gingivitis in children is to make sure you take your child to their regularly scheduled pediatric dentist. The dentist will ensure they get regular in-depth teeth cleaning services, fix any issues that occur, and of course, notice gingivitis before it’s a problem.
If you need a pediatric dentist to take care of your child’s oral health, contact us today.