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What Parents Need to Know about Periodontal Disease 

Periodontal disease is one of the most prevalent illnesses afflicting children today. Here’s what parents need to know about gum disease, and what they can do to help their children avoid it.

What is Periodontal Disease? 

Periodontal disease is a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the gum tissue and bone supporting the teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP). Periodontal disease is generally called gum disease, but it comes in different forms. If left untreated, gum disease can lead to gum recession and tooth and bone loss.

Periodontal disease Symptoms 

There are different types of gum disease, and each will have their own specific symptoms. However, there are some common general symptoms that indicate some sort of periodontal ailment.

  • Bleeding gums when brushing or flossing. 
  • Swollen, bright red gums that are puffy. 
  • Gums that have receded away from the teeth. 
  • Constant bad breath that is not alleviated by brushing and flossing.  

If your child has any of these symptoms and they are not alleviated by brushing and flossing, then schedule an appointment with their pediatric dentist. Their dentist will be able to accurately diagnose them and provide you with treatment options.


Gingivitis is the most common form of gum disease, and it’s also the most moderate. Sometimes, gingivitis can go unnoticed because there can be little or no discomfort associated with it. Gingivitis is often caused by poor oral hygiene, and can cause gums to become red and swollen while brushing, and bleed easily. Gingivitis is also commonly caused by hormonal fluctuations, which is common with adolescents experiencing puberty.

A dentist can treat gingivitis, and symptoms usually improve with proper oral care.


If left untreated, gingivitis can evolve into a more serious condition: periodontitis. Periodontitis occurs when plaque grows below the gum line and irritates the gums. Periodontitis can cause severe gum recession, and destroy bone and gum tissue, resulting in tooth loss. Other diseases such as diabetes, heart conditions, or genetic predisposition can also cause Periodontitis.

Periodontitis is a serious disease and needs to be treated by a dental professional. 

Preventing Periodontal Disease 

The best way to prevent periodontal disease is with early detection and a proper oral hygiene routine. Children and adolescents should undergo periodontal evaluation as a part of their regular dental visit, which should occur every six months. If you’re unsure about your child’s gum health, then ask their pediatric dentist to evaluate the state of their gums. 

Improved daily oral hygiene can help remove bacterial deposits common in gingivitis and other periodontal diseases. The AAPD recommends that children brush their teeth twice per day for two minutes at a time, and floss once per day.  However, proper brushing and flossing is not enough to eliminate gum disease, and children with gum disease need to be treated by their dentist accordingly.

Find a Dentist Near You 

If you don’t have a dental home for your child, then find a pediatric dentist near you using our directory. Our pediatric dentist locator will help you discover a pediatric dentist in your neighborhood, and let’s you compare dental offices so that you can select the one that’s right for your family.

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