Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, is a common condition in which plaque builds up on the teeth and causes the gum tissue to become inflamed. As gum disease progresses, an active infection occurs underneath the gumline, which can lead to loose teeth and eventually tooth loss. The condition ranges from mild to severe. It’s important to know that nearly everyone, even children, is susceptible to gum disease. Learn more about your child’s risk.
Are Children Susceptible to Gum Disease? Possibly—But Here’s How You Can Prevent It
Generally, gum disease is less common in children than adults. A mild form of the condition is referred to as gingivitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums caused by bacterial plaque buildup along the gumline. If left untreated, it can progress to a more severe gum disease known as periodontitis.
The main cause of gum disease in children is poor oral hygiene. When children don’t brush and floss their teeth regularly, plaque accumulates on the teeth and gums, leading to gingivitis. Other factors that may contribute to gum disease in children include:
- Diet. A diet high in sugary and starchy foods promotes the growth of harmful bacteria in the mouth, increasing the risk of gum disease.
- Thumb sucking or pacifier use. Prolonged thumb sucking or pacifier use might affect the positioning of the teeth and contribute to gum problems.
- Medical conditions. Certain medical conditions and medications impact oral health and increase the risk of gum disease.
- Genetics. Some children may be genetically predisposed to gum disease.
It's crucial to establish good oral hygiene habits early in childhood to prevent gum disease and maintain overall oral health. Parents and caregivers should encourage children to brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and visit the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings.