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Gum Disease in Kids: What Every Parent Should Know

by Youth Dental

Gum Disease in Kids: What Every Parent Should Know

Reviewed By Dr. Jodi Kuhn

Reading time: 5 minutes

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common oral health issue that affects people of all ages, including children. Despite its prevalence, there’s often a lack of awareness about gum problems in children. 

Most parents are not even aware that their children have this condition which can lead to bigger dental problems when they grow up. 

In this blog, we will give you a clearer picture of what gum disease looks like, its causes in kids, the signs and symptoms parents should watch for, and the potential consequences of leaving it untreated. 

What Is a Gum Disease?

Gum disease refers to an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding the teeth. Different from cavities which affect only the teeth, periodontal disease affects the gums and bones that surround the teeth. 

It typically starts with the buildup of plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on teeth. If not removed through proper oral hygiene practices like brushing and flossing, plaque can harden into tartar, leading to gum irritation and inflammation. Over time, untreated gum disease can progress, causing damage to the gums and supporting structures of the teeth.

How Common is Gum Disease in Kids?

You might think it’s unlikely since their teeth are just forming, but gum disease can also affect children. According to medical experts, 5 out of 10 children and adolescents experience some form of gum disease in varying degrees. The most common periodontal issue in kids is gingivitis. 

What Causes Gum Disease in Kids?

Several factors can cause gum disease in kids:

  1. Poor oral hygiene habits – Inadequate brushing and flossing can allow plaque to accumulate, leading to gum inflammation and disease. This is especially true for children who don’t know how to brush their teeth properly (or do not brush at all). 
  2. Bacterial infection – Plaque buildup provides an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive, causing gum infection, irritation and inflammation.
  3. Poor nutrition and unhealthy diet – Kids who eat foods high in sugar may suffer from plaque buildup and gum inflammation.
  4. Systemic diseases and medications – Certain medical conditions and medications may affect oral health, increasing the likelihood of gum disease development in children. 

Signs and Symptoms of Gum Disease in Kids

Most cases of gum disease in children go unnoticed because parents are not sure what to look for. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of gum disease is important for early intervention. 

Here are a few things to watch out for:

  • Red, swollen, or tender gums are often the first noticeable signs of gum disease.
  • Bleeding while brushing or flossing is not normal and should be addressed promptly.
  • Chronic bad breath, also known as halitosis, can be a sign of underlying gum disease.
  • As gum issues progress, gums may recede, and teeth may become loose or shift in position.
  • Misalignment of the teeth and jaw causing bite problems 
  • Pus or discharge around the gums.

If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.

Stages of Gum Disease 

The stages of gum disease are gingivitis, early-stage periodontitis and advanced periodontitis. Here is a break-down of each stage. 


Gingivitis is the mildest form of gum disease and is the most common. It is characterized by inflamed gums that may bleed during brushing or flossing. Gingivitis in babies is also possible.  

Early-Stage Periodontitis

Early-stage periodontitis involves the progression of gingivitis, with pockets forming between the gums and teeth.

Advanced Periodontitis

Advanced periodontitis is the most severe stage of gum disease, marked by extensive gum and bone damage, leading to tooth loss.

Don’t wait for your child’s gum disease to reach moderate and severe forms. Bring your child to the nearest Youth Dental clinic for assessment as soon as you notice symptoms. 

How To Treat Gum Disease in Kids

Treating gum disease requires a combination of professional dental care and consistent oral hygiene practices at home.

Professional Dental Care

  • Regular dental check-ups. Schedule regular dental appointments for your child, starting from the age of one or when their first tooth erupts. Routine check-ups allow the dentist to monitor your child’s oral health and detect gum disease early.
  • Teeth cleaning. Professional dental cleanings help remove plaque and tartar buildup that cannot be removed through regular brushing and flossing. These cleanings are essential for preventing and treating gum disease.
  • Scaling and root planing. In cases of advanced gum disease, your child’s dentist may recommend scaling and root planing to remove tartar and bacteria from below the gumline and smooth out rough spots on the tooth roots to promote healing.

Home Care Practices

  • Teach proper brushing and flossing techniques. Educate your child on proper brushing and flossing techniques. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride or hydroxyapatite toothpaste to brush your child’s teeth twice a day. Floss once a day to remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth.
  • Supervise brushing. Young children may not have the dexterity to brush their teeth effectively on their own. Supervise their brushing routine and flossing to ensure thorough cleaning of all tooth surfaces.
  • Encourage healthy eating habits. A balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can promote overall oral health. Limit sugary snacks and beverages, as they contribute to plaque buildup and increase the risk of gum disease.

Consequences of Untreated Gum Disease in Kids

Leaving gum disease untreated can have serious consequences for a child’s oral health, including:

  • Advanced gum disease can result in tooth loss and irreversible damage to permanent teeth.
  • Untreated gum disease may lead to the spread of infection to other oral tissues, increasing the risk of complications.
  • Severe gum disease can affect a child’s ability to speak and chew properly, impacting their overall quality of life.

Youth Dental – Your Kid-Friendly Dentist

At Youth Dental, your child’s dental health is our priority. We offer comprehensive dental service for children from infancy to age 21. We offer a variety of services to meet the unique needs of children, including dental exams and teeth cleanings. 

If you are looking for a kids’ dentist in Denver, Aurora, Thornton, or Hampden, call Youth Dental at (303) 953-8801. 

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