While many people believe periodontal disease (gum disease) is an adult problem, studies indicate that gingivitis (the first stage of periodontal disease) is nearly a universal problem among children and adolescents. Advanced forms of periodontal disease are more rare in children than adults, but can occur. Periodontal disease not only affects the gums but it also destroy the bone that supports your teeth. If left unchecked, periodontitis can lead to tooth loss. If this disease runs in your family, then your child may also be at increased risk for periodontal disease so establishing good oral homecare now is even more critical to ensure a healthy smile in the future.
Chronic gingivitis is common in children. It can cause gum tissue to swell, turn red, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is preventable and treatable with a regular routine of brushing, flossing, and professional dental care. If left untreated, it can eventually advance to more serious forms of periodontal disease which can then lead to tooth loss.
Localized aggressive periodontitis can affect young healthy children. It 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 periodontitis may 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.
Conditions that make children more susceptible to periodontal disease include:
- Type I diabetes
- Down syndrome
- Ehlers-Danlos syndrome