How many times have you told your child to smile and say “cheese?” When it comes to cute photos, teeth get all the glory. But it’s the gums that are the real unsung hero. In fact, when it comes to oral hygiene, the gums should get just as much attention. September is National Gum Care Month and in honor of the occasion, we’re sharing our top 10 tips for maintaining healthy gums.
Can children develop gum disease?
Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is the result of inflammation or infection of the gum. While children aren’t as susceptible to the more advanced stages of gum disease, they can develop gingivitis. Also known as plaque, this is the buildup of harmful bacteria on the teeth and gums. Over time, plaque can lead to infection and tooth decay.
Signs of Gum Disease
A buildup of plaque is usually the first stage of gum disease. Other signs of gum disease include:
- Bad breath
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Painful chewing
- Sensitive teeth
- Gums that have pulled away from the root of the teeth
10 Tips for Maintaining Healthy Gums
Teach your children good oral hygiene now to prevent gum disease rather than making an extra trip to the dentist to treat it later. Here are a few tips to ensure both your child’s teeth and gums stay healthy.
- Make sure they brush twice a day. Brushing for two minutes once in the morning and again at night before bed will help remove plaque from your teeth.
- Use the right toothpaste. Find a toothpaste that will truly clean your child’s teeth. They want something that tastes good. Just make sure it contains fluoride, which strengthens the surface of the teeth and has the American Dental Association stamp of approval. Beyond that, whatever flavor you and your child agree on is fine.
- Once their teeth are brushed, no more snacking. If your child gets thirsty in the middle of the night, give them water only.
- Floss once a day. Just like adults, kids also need to floss. At first, you may need to help them. Toothbrushes aren’t as effective at removing plaque in between the tight spaces between the teeth. Flossing removes any stuck food or bacteria that may be lurking between teeth.
- Replace their toothbrush frequently. Over time, toothbrush bristles become damaged, and bacteria will accumulate. Plan to replace your child’s toothbrush every three months and more frequently if the bristles start to show signs of wear.
- Switch to an electric toothbrush. The rotating bristles and pulsating head are better able to clean between teeth and loosen plaque than manual brushes. There are several kid-friendly options available.
- Use a mouthwash. Using a fluoridated mouthwash washes away food particles and bacteria while strengthening tooth enamel. Again, there are several kid-friendly options that do a great job, but don’t burn like adult mouthwashes. Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol.
- Schedule a dental checkup every six months. During a checkup, we will clean your child’s teeth deeply and check for any problems that may have been overlooked.
- Drink more water. Water washes away leftover food particles and residue that cavity-causing bacteria feed on.
- Avoid sugar and starchy foods. Sure, kids love sweet treats and sugary drinks. But so do bacteria! They feed on sugar and produce acid that wears away tooth enamel and causes decay.
Pediatric Dental Associates of Alabama is led by top-rated pediatric dentists with locations in Birmingham, Cullman, Medplex-Hoover, Oxford and Pell City. When looking for your child’s dentist, know that we aspire to be the premier provider of pediatric dental services in Alabama. Beautiful smiles are our specialty!