Did you know that every 3 out of 4 Americans experience a form of gum disease in their lifetime? Gingivitis, the most common, is a condition that encompasses the very early stages of a more severe gum disease or periodontitis. It is most quickly recognized by bleeding when flossing or brushing. Gingivitis is the number one cause of bloody gums, and should not be ignored as it is not a “normal” thing. Perfectly treatable early on, it can lead to a more serious condition (periodontitis) if neglected.
What Causes It?
Plaque is essentially a hardened film that develops on teeth, formed by bacteria. Plaque grows wherever bacteria is not being removed; which means if you do not floss, you are not getting rid of the bacteria in between your teeth!
Did you know that a toothbrush only reaches 2/3 of our mouths? That means, if a person never flosses, one third of their mouth never gets clean! Gross!
The plaque that grows between teeth release toxins into the gums which can cause an infection to develop. The infection spreads into the gums, making them red and tender. This means if you brush a little too hard one day, or floss for the first time in awhile, it can cause an instant abrasion in the gums, causing them to bleed.
Gingivitis is very prominent in children as they are still developing healthy oral hygiene habits. They are notorious for cutting corners in their daily brushing regimen. Typically children also have more of a taste for sweets. Sugar turns to acid, acid turns to plaque, and plaque seeps into the gums, causing the infection. Children and young teens are also at risk because rapid hormone changes are known to be linked to gum disease. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is also more common with little ones, which can worsen gingivitis and is hard on the enamel and overall teeth in general. All things to be considered; that children are constantly growing and developing and that taking care of their teeth at a young age will do them favors and save them a lot of trouble later in life.
If your kids start to see that “pink in the sink”, definitely help them out! There is a statement among experts that say children do not have the proper dexterity in their hands to brush their teeth until they can tie their shoes all by themselves. Therefore it is recommended you brush your child’s teeth for them up until the hand strength and precision is developed. Small flossers are also useful to assist you with flossing and it will also teach them to do it on their own. Flossing is probably the number one thing you can do to prevent gingivitis from happening in between the gums. Be a good role model and take care of your own mouth too. This means brushing twice daily for at least two minutes, and flossing and rinsing once daily.
If your child’s gingivitis condition is more severe, it may be a good idea to arrange for them to start going to a pediatric dentist, as they have more experience with little mouths and have 2-3 years more schooling than regular dentists. Teach them young, and take care of their teeth now so they do not have problems with their adult teeth later!