Periodontal disease, commonly referred to as gum disease, is an infection that can impact your entire mouth. It begins with plaque, a white film that cakes onto the teeth and solidifies to form tartar. Plaque and tartar transport aggressive and dangerous bacteria that settle into the gums.
The disease has three stages:
- Gingivitis: is the mildest form of gum disease. It is characterized by irritation, redness, inflammation, and bleeding.
- Periodontal Disease: when gingivitis progresses, it becomes more serious and is then known as periodontitis. Symptoms at this stage include all the signs of gingivitis plus pockets of pus between teeth and gums, bad breath, and loose teeth.
- Advanced Periodontal Disease: the most critical stage of gum disease results in erosion of the bones that support the teeth. Teeth may fall out or have to be surgically extracted to stop the spread of infection.
Research has linked gum disease to a weakening of the immune system and a host of very serious medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Fortunately, gingivitis is completely reversible if caught early and is the form of gum disease that is most often found in children.
There are several risk factors for gingivitis, but the most common ones that affect children are irregular, poor dental habits and a diet that is excessive in sugar and junk foods. Prevention is the best policy. We recommend that our patients brush their teeth for at least two minutes, twice a day. Flossing can take place before or after brushing, but should be done at least once a day to rid plaque and bacteria from the crevices of teeth and in the gums.
If you see signs of gingivitis in your child, please schedule a visit to see us at Peninsula Dentistry. In addition to two trips for a check-up in our office, our hygienists are skilled at removing plaque and tartar that causes gingivitis. The earlier gingivitis is treated, the better the overall outcome and impact on your total health.