Have you noticed bleeding while your children are brushing or flossing their teeth? Do they have bad breath that won’t seem to go away? Upon checking, does your little one have swollen and sore gums? Your child could be exhibiting symptoms of gum disease in children.
Know about childhood periodontal diseases, such as symptoms, risk factors, effects, and more in this article, outlining common gum disease home remedies and dentist-recommended treatments.
Periodontal disease or gum disease is an oral health issue that can affect people of all ages. It is a bacterial infection that causes inflammation and bleeding in the gums, which are the tissues that hold your teeth in place. Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease in children and also the mildest.
The symptoms of gum disease in children include the following:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bad breath
- Bleeding gums
- Loose or separating teeth
- Receding gums
- A change in bite and jaw alignment
There are plenty of habits that can increase the risk of gum disease in children. For instance, having a poor diet and a lack of proper dental care can make a child more prone to gum disease and other oral health issues.
Having health conditions such as autoimmune disease and diabetes also contribute to a higher risk of developing chronic gum disease. In addition, certain hormonal changes, such as the ones adolescents go through in puberty, can also cause this oral health problem to occur.
Young children who still have their baby teeth are less likely to acquire plaque buildup and, therefore, less likely to develop gum disease. However, past the age of 5, the chance of developing gum disease in children increases. In fact, gingivitis can be found in about 73% of children between the ages of 6 and 11.
When a child reaches puberty, the risk of developing gum disease increases because of the change in hormones. At around age 10, girls are more likely to develop gingivitis than boys. Meanwhile, boys have an increased risk once they turn 13 years old.
As stated earlier, children are most likely to contract gingivitis, which is the mildest form of gum disease. However, if ignored and left untreated, it could lead to a more serious periodontal disease like periodontitis, which could destroy the bone that supports a child’s teeth. This form of gum disease in children can lead to pain and tooth loss, significantly affecting a child’s ability to speak and eat.
Untreated periodontitis can also lead to other health complications. The bacteria that causes this form of gum disease in children can enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. For instance, periodontitis is linked to health conditions such as heart disease, respiratory problems, and diabetes.
The good news is that gum disease in children is entirely treatable. For milder forms of the disease, there are plenty of home remedies available to help ease the symptoms.
Now that you read the symptoms and causes of gum disease in children, as well as the effects of leaving it untreated, know what you can do once you spot the signs of gum disease in your child. Here are a few gum disease home remedies you can try:
You can help your child relieve the inflammation in their gums through a salt water treatment. One study proved that rinsing the mouth with a sodium chloride solution can promote healthier gums. When you notice symptoms of gum disease in your children, mix half a teaspoon of salt into a lukewarm glass of water, teach them to swish the solution in their mouth for at least 30 seconds, and let them spit it out.
If the salt water rinse isn’t relieving your child’s symptoms, other mouthwash options are available. Here are a few ingredients that are proven effective for clearing gingivitis:
- Lemongrass oil
- Aloe vera
- Tea tree oil
- Guava leaf
Another known home remedy for gum disease in children is using a peppermint tea bag. Place a freshly used peppermint tea bag in the freezer. Once it’s cold enough, put it in between your child’s cheek and gums to relax their gums and numb any pain. Please note that you will only put the frozen peppermint tea bags externally (not for ingesting.)
This method is a safe and pleasant way to help relieve their chronic gum disease symptoms. If you don’t have tea bags, adding a few drops of peppermint essential oil (mixed with clove oil) on a cotton ball and applying it to the irritated area can also do the trick.
Severe cases of gum disease in children may need more than home remedies. In those situations, seeking the help of a dental professional is the best course of action. Your dentist knows what procedure is best depending on the symptoms and your child’s age.
Root planing and scaling (deep cleaning) is a dental procedure for chronic gum disease that removes plaque and tartar above and below the gumline. This treatment is necessary for periodontitis cases wherein the patient’s gums, bones, and surrounding tissues become damaged. Through this procedure, the damaged root surfaces of the teeth can be smoothed so that the gums can be reattached.
For advanced cases of gum disease in children, surgery may be needed. The dental professional will have to clean the infected areas under the gums and replace or reshape the infected tissues.
Dentists may also be able to recommend antibiotics to patients with chronic gum disease. These medicines will either be inserted directly into periodontal pockets or taken in pill form.
The key to helping your child avoid the pain and discomfort of gingivitis and periodontitis is by helping them get proper dental care as early as possible. You may wonder, “What is dental care for children like, and how can I make sure that my child gets it?” There are two simple answers: regular brushing and dentist visits.
Set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health by teaching them to brush their teeth twice a day, every day. Since children’s teeth and gums are still sensitive and developing, using a child-friendly and ultra-soft toothbrush is recommended.
In addition, taking your child to the dentist regularly is crucial. According to the American Dental Association, a child’s first visit to the dentist should happen no later than their first birthday or right after their first tooth appears.
Remember: When it comes to chronic gum disease, prevention is always better than cure. So, help keep your child’s smile healthy and happy by establishing proper oral care habits today!
Hannah Krisha Tongco is a copywriter who has written for a variety of industries, including medical, dental, law, real estate, marketing, entertainment, and more! She is also a passionate mental health advocate, an avid movie watcher, and a dedicated fur mom to two dogs.
1.Periodontal Disease in Children (Stanford Children’s Health)
2.Periodontitis (Mayo Clinic)
3.Periodontal Disease in Children (University of Rochester Medical Center)