Children and Gum Disease: Facts, Risks, and Prevention

December 22, 2014

When it comes to children’s oral health, most of the attention goes to cavities and cavity prevention. And with good reason: tooth decay is a serious childhood disease and, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), affects approximately 42% of U.S. children between the ages of 2 and 11. Unfortunately, the conditions that place a child at higher risk for tooth decay can also increase their risk for developing gum disease later in life. And while gum disease may not sound serious, it’s the #1 cause of adult tooth loss nationwide. Today, Dr. Brad Greenfield looks at some startling facts about children and gum disease, examine high-risk factors that can lead to juvenile gum disease, and how parents can help their children enjoy optimal oral health.
How Prevalent is Gum Disease Among U.S. Children?
According to the most recent numbers from the NIH, nearly half of school-aged children in the United States show signs of gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease. As much as two-thirds (66%) of teens and young adults have gum disease. Although the numbers are high, we often don’t treat gum disease with as much seriousness as tooth decay. Gum disease is painless and doesn’t cause affect the appearance of the teeth in its early, causing it seem far less serious than cavities.
Risk Factors for Gum Disease
A number of factors can increase your child’s risk for developing gingivitis, including:
• Poor oral hygiene habits (brushing too quickly or infrequently, seldom flossing)
• A diet high in sugars and refined carbohydrates (think high-sugar snacks and drinks)
• Heredity (if you or your spouse are prone to gum disease, your child will be more likely to develop it)
• Hormonal shifts, especially for girls going through puberty
How to Prevent Gum Disease in Your Child
Preventing gum disease is easiest and most effective when addressed earlier in life. The American Dental Association recommends this three-pronged approach:
• Take them to the dentist regularly. The very best way to keep your child’s oral health in top condition is to take them to regular checkups with your family dentist. She can identify the very earliest stages of gum disease and recommend products and habits to halt the progression of the disease.
• Monitor their at-home dental care habits. Set a timer for two minutes or, even better, play two minutes of your child’s favorite song and have them brush for the duration to ensure a thorough cleaning.
• Cut the sugar. Reduce the amount of sugars and refined carbohydrates your child consumes by stocking your pantry and fridge with healthier alternatives, like cheese sticks, nuts, and bottles tap water.
About Your Lake Orion Dentist
Dr. Brad Greenfield offers our patients access to the latest in holistic dentistry. You can visit Dr. Greenfield’s office in Lake Orion at 248-693-6213 to schedule a dental appointment for a dental implant consultation. We offer comprehensive dentistry services to patients in Lake Orion and surrounding communities.

Our Services

Tooth Icon

General Dentistry

General dental care provides preventive services along with feedback about your oral health. We provide important oral health reviews for patients of all ages.

Tooth icon

Advanced Dentistry

The right solution for an active oral health issue can give you more confidence in your smile along with the support to bite and chew comfortably.

Tooth icon

Children’s Dentistry

We strive to make every visit comfortable for the kids who depend on us, and we provide reviews and protection that helps you keep them safe from oral health threats.

Tooth icon

Cosmetic Dentistry

We offer conservative, lasting solutions to the flaws that rob people of confidence in the way they look when they speak and smile.