The smile of your child is often a source of joy. As a parent, you want to ensure that your little one’s smile remains healthy as they develop and grow into adulthood. However, many parents may not realize that periodontal disease, a serious condition leading to tooth loss, can also affect children.
You can lower your child’s risk of developing periodontal disease by regularly visiting Dr. Jeremy K. Ueno. While it is often associated with adults, periodontal disease can also occur in children as young as two years. Several risk factors can increase their chances of developing the condition. Learn more about these risk factors in detail below.
Genetics can play a significant role in developing periodontal disease in children. Research has shown that children with a family history of periodontal disease are at higher risk of developing the condition. Genetic factors can influence how the body responds to bacterial plaque on the teeth and gums.
Certain genetic variations can affect the immune system’s ability to fight off harmful bacteria, leading to inflammation and damage to the gums and supporting structures of the teeth. Additionally, some genetic variations can lead to the overproduction of inflammatory molecules, further exacerbating gum disease.
Certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes, can increase the risk of periodontal disease in children. This is because diabetes affects the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar levels, which can lead to a higher level of glucose in the saliva. High glucose levels in the saliva can provide an ideal environment for bacteria to grow and multiply, leading to an increased risk of gum disease.
It would be best to inform your child’s dentist about any underlying medical conditions your child may have. Doing so can help the dentist tailor the treatment plan to your child’s needs.
Malocclusion, or misaligned teeth, can make it difficult for your child to clean between their teeth. This effect can lead to the buildup of plaque and an increased risk of periodontal disease. Teeth that are crowded, crooked, or have gaps between them can create spaces where bacteria can accumulate and thrive, leading to inflammation and infection of the gums.
Orthodontic treatment, such as braces or clear aligners, can help correct malocclusion and reduce the risk of periodontal disease in children. By straightening the teeth and closing gaps between them, orthodontic treatment can help make it easier for your child to maintain good oral hygiene habits.
Nutritional deficiencies can increase the risk of periodontal disease in children. A diet lacking essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins C, D, calcium, and iron, can weaken the immune system, making it harder for the body to fight infection.
Vitamin C, for example, is essential for producing collagen, a key component of the gums. A deficiency in vitamin C can lead to weakened gum tissue, making it easier for bacteria to penetrate and cause infection.
Tobacco exposure can increase the risk of periodontal disease in children. Children exposed to secondhand smoke or who use tobacco products are at increased risk of developing gum disease. Tobacco products contain harmful chemicals that can damage the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.
Nicotine, for example, constricts blood vessels, reducing the amount of oxygen and nutrients that reach the gums, making it harder for the body to fight off infection. It is important to discourage tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke to reduce the risk of tobacco-related periodontal disease in your child.
While periodontal disease can cause irreversible effects on your child’s oral health, it can be effectively prevented and managed. Being vigilant about your child’s oral health can help reduce their risk of developing this condition.
It is also important to remember that early detection and treatment are crucial in managing this condition. If you notice any gum disease in your child, such as bleeding or swollen gums, bad breath, or loose teeth, it is important to seek dental care as soon as possible.