When you tell your kids that you are going to bring them to the dentist, they run and hide in fear. They usually imagine the dentist as an executioner with needles and dental drills. Not only children, but even some adults are scared to go to the dentist.
As parents, we have to explain to our children that taking care of their teeth and gums is very important and that dentists are there to help and keep their teeth healthy.
Gingivitis is one of the common problems in children as well as adults. It is the first stage of periodontal disease. That is why as early as possible it should be detected and treated to prevent it from getting worse and cause serious damage to your kid’s teeth and gums.
If you are interested in gingivitis treatment for your child, keep reading this article by Dr. Marlene Teo, a periodontist currently practicing in Singapore with many years of experience in the treatment of gum disease in all ages.Here, Dr. Teo gives important information to parents about gingivitis and how it is treated.
Why see a periodontist for gingivitis treatment?
This might be your first time to encounter the word “periodontist”, don’t worry, you are not alone. Before we talk about gingivitis, let me just clear to you the distinction between periodontists and dentists.A dentist can treat the gums, teeth and other areas of the mouth while a periodontist specializes in treating problems on thegums and bones supporting the teeth(periodontium). Periodontists focus on the prevention and treatment of periodontal disease like gingivitis and periodontitis, a severe form of gum infection.
You can always go to your dentist for your gum problems as they are also trained to administer treatment. However, there are severe cases of gum infection that are best handled by a periodontist. In Singapore, periodontists undergo extra three years of study and training on gum diseases. So, if you want a specialist for gingivitis treatment, then a periodontist may be a better option.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is common in children and it is characterized by the inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth. It is a periodontal disease caused by plaque or bacteria accumulated on the teeth. This is why I always advise parents to communicate with their children about good oral health habits.
The common signs of gingivitis are swelling, redness, bleeding and pain in the gums. If not treated early, it might progress to periodontitis where gum recession and tooth loss can occur.
Are there different types of gingivitis?
- Dental plaque-induced gingival disease
This can be caused by plaque, certain medications or malnutrition.
- Non-plaque induced gingival lesions
This can be caused by viruses, bacteria or fungus. It can be also caused by genetic factors, allergic reactions, wounds, or sometimes there is no known cause at all.
What are the signs and symptoms to look out for?
Usually, you cannot easily detect mild gingivitis in your child because there might be no pain or visible signs and symptoms. Here is a list of common signs and symptoms of gingivitis that you should look out for in your child:
- Gums bleed when brushing or flossing
- Swollen gums
- Gums that pull away from teeth (receding gums)
- Puss between the teeth and gums
- Purple or bright red gums
- Bad breath that will not go away
- Tender gums that can be painful to touch
Gingivitis treatment for children
Once your child is diagnosed with gingivitis, your dentist or health care provider will usually refer you to a periodontist for treatment.
In treating gingivitis, I consider the child’s age, symptoms, the severity of the condition and the child’s state of health. To prevent gingivitis from getting worse, early treatment is a must. The bone around the teeth my dissolve and won’t be able to hold the teeth in place anymore when gingivitis is left untreated.
Here are the treatments I recommend for gingivitis in children:
- Scaling and root planing. Deep cleaning treatment will help remove the plaque and tartar at the base of the teeth. The damaged root surfaces of the teeth can be also smoothened.
- Prescribed antibiotics can be taken in the form of a pill or syrup. It can also be administered in the periodontal pockets.
- Good oral health habits. Brushing and flossing daily can help fight gingivitis and regular cleanings by a dentist are very helpful too.
Gingivitis treatment can help in preventing complications. However, if it will be left untreated, the gum disease can affect tissues, bones, and teeth. It can lead to periodontitis which can lead to loss of teeth or bone. It can also cause abscess or infection in the jaw bone. In adults, there are also reports that gum disease is associated with a heart attack or lung disease.
How can I help my child prevent gingivitis?
This is the question that most parents ask me. I always advise them to teach and encourage their children with good oral health habits. Proper brushing techniques are important and it is best to use a toothbrush that is right for the child’s age. Flossing can sometimes cause the gums to bleed, so I persuade parents to explain to their children the importance of flossing first and teach them how to do it properly.Limit your child’s consumption of foods with high sugar content and encourage them to eat healthy foods to prevent plaque that causes gingivitis. And of course, a regular visit to the dentist can be a big help in ensuring healthy teeth and gums.
Be a Role Model
I remind the parents that encouraging children with good oral health habits without action will not work. It will be more effective if they show their children that they are brushing their teeth regularly. It is also much better if they brush their teeth together with their children to show a good example.
Gingivitis is not a simple gum problem so you have to take it seriously. If you notice your children having the signs and symptoms, set up an appointment with your dentist and have it checked as soon as you can. Early treatment is very important to avoid complications. Remember to be a role model for your children. Healthy teeth make a happy child.
If you have further questions about gingivitis treatment or periodontal diseases, you may reach out with Dr. Marlene Teo. She will be happy to help with your dental concerns.
Dr Marlene Teo
360 Orchard Rd, #03-06/07 next to Lido,
International Building, Singapore 238869
+65 8588 9868