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Causes and Treatment of Childhood Periodontal Disease

Causes and Treatment of Childhood Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a condition that affects the tissues surrounding and supporting the teeth. It is often associated with adults, but it can also affect children. In fact, research shows that up to 70% of pediatric dental patients have some form of periodontal disease.

What Causes Periodontal Disease in Children?

Poor dental hygiene is the most common cause of periodontal disease in children. When children do not brush and floss their teeth regularly, plaque builds up on their teeth and gums. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can cause inflammation and irritation of the gums, leading to gingivitis, the early stage of periodontal disease.

If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, which is a more serious form of gum disease that can damage the soft tissues and bone that support the teeth. Periodontitis can lead to tooth loss and other health problems, such as infection and inflammation throughout the body.

Other factors that can contribute to periodontal disease in children include genetics, a poor diet high in sugar and carbohydrates, certain medications that reduce saliva flow, and certain medical conditions, such as diabetes and immune disorders.

Signs and Symptoms of Periodontal Disease in Children

The signs and symptoms of periodontal disease in children can be subtle and easily overlooked. However, parents should watch out for the following signs:

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Loose or shifting teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Pus between the teeth and gums
  • Changes in the way teeth fit together when biting or chewing

Preventing Periodontal Disease in Children

The good news is that periodontal disease is preventable with good oral hygiene practices. Parents can take the following steps to help prevent periodontal disease in their children:

  1. Encourage regular brushing and flossing: Children should brush their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time and floss daily.
  1. Promote a healthy diet: A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein can help keep teeth and gums healthy.
  1. Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings: Children should have regular dental check-ups every six months to detect any signs of periodontal disease and receive preventive care.
  1. Avoid tobacco exposure: Children should not be exposed to tobacco smoke or use tobacco products, as tobacco use can increase the risk of gum disease.
  1. Manage medical conditions: Parents should work with their child's doctor to manage any medical conditions that can contribute to periodontal disease, such as diabetes.

Treating Periodontal Disease in Children

If periodontal disease is detected in a child, the treatment will depend on the severity of the disease. Mild cases of gingivitis can often be treated with improved oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing regularly. In more severe cases, a dentist or periodontist may recommend professional cleaning, scaling and root planing, or antibiotic therapy.

In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair damaged tissues or remove teeth that cannot be saved. The key to treating periodontal disease in children is early detection and intervention to prevent the disease from progressing and causing permanent damage to the teeth and gums.

Periodontal disease is a common condition that can affect children. Fortunately, it is preventable and treatable with good oral hygiene practices and regular dental check-ups. Parents should encourage their children to brush and floss regularly, eat a healthy diet, and avoid tobacco exposure to promote good oral health and prevent periodontal disease.

If you think your child may have symptoms of periodontal disease, we recommend seeing a dentist as soon as possible. To find a children’s dentist near you, please see our list of locations below.


Kids & Teen Dental Place - Glendale, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Van Nuys


Adventure - Aurora, Denver, Commerce City, Greeley, Lakewood, Longmont

Academy Kids - Colorado Springs, Pueblo


Adventure - Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita


Adventure - Baltimore, Essex, Landover Hills

New Mexico

Adventure - Albuquerque, Santa Fe


Adventure - Midwest City

Pediatric Dental Group - Tulsa

Washington DC

Adventure - DC, Landover Hills

Leaders in providing high-quality and compassionate dental, vision, and orthodontic services to underserved children. Our providers are general dentists who treat pediatric patients.

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