About gingivitis or gum disease
Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums – that is, the gums get red, swollen and irritated. It’s an early and mild form of gum disease.
Gingivitis is common in children of all ages.
Gingivitis happens when bacteria in the mouth create a sticky covering called plaque on teeth and around the gum line. These bacteria and the toxins they produce irritate the gums. The plaque can harden into what’s called tartar over time, especially with poor dental hygiene. Tartar can attract more bacteria, leading to more gum inflammation.
Gingivitis is often called gum disease.
A common sign of gingivitis is bleeding gums, especially while brushing or flossing teeth.
Other symptoms can include red, swollen or tender gums, or bad breath.
If left untreated, gingivitis can turn into a more serious form of gum disease called periodontitis. Periodontitis can cause permanent damage to the gums and the bone supporting your teeth. It can cause pain, receding gums and tooth loss.
Does your child need to see a dentist about gingivitis?
Yes. If you think your child might have gingivitis, it’s important to visit a dentist to stop the gingivitis from getting worse.
If your child has signs of being generally unwell, like a fever or facial swelling, and you think these might be because of dental problems, see your GP or go to a hospital emergency department straight away.
Even if you think your child has gingivitis, your child should keep brushing their teeth. If your child has gingivitis, the dentist will tell you what to do next.
Treatment for gingivitis
Dentists can usually treat gingivitis by cleaning your child’s teeth to remove plaque and tartar around the gums.
Occasionally, your dentist might say your child needs some extra treatment.
Prevention of gingivitis
There are two key ways your child can prevent gingivitis:
- Brush teeth twice a day with a soft toothbrush. Use low-fluoride toothpaste from 18 months to 6 years and regular toothpaste after that.
- Have regular dental check-ups with the dentist. Generally start seeing the dentist by the time your child is one year old or when their first tooth comes through, whichever happens first.
These steps also help to prevent other dental problems like tooth decay.
Cleaning and caring for children’s teeth early on sets up good dental habits for life. And good dental health is important for overall health and development during childhood and later in life.