According to a survey from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in 2012, only 82 percent of children, ages 2-17, saw a dentist in the past year and less than 62 percent of adults, ages 18-64, saw a dentist in the same time period. This leaves a substantial number of adults and children on their own when it comes to dental care. Without proper education, it can be difficult to diagnose potentially serious problems, and because teeth and gums are linked to nutrition and growth, proper dental care is a necessity for overall health and wellness, especially in kids. As an adult, it is your responsibility to teach good dental hygiene habits to your kids and to help them maintain a healthy mouth. It is important to understand what your child’s mouth might be telling you, as well as to know when signs and symptoms could suggest crisis. From lightly pigmented to bleeding gums, danger can range from non-existent to imminent. “There are several reasons why gums bleed easily,” says Dr. Rafat S. Razi, a specialist in pediatric dentistry, who citied bacteria, plaque, food impaction and poor dental hygiene habits as potential causes for unhealthy gums. “Other reasons may include underlying medical issues.”
Trauma, such as brushing too hard, can trigger gums to bleed as well as recede. However, receding gums can also signal periodontal disease, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects gum tissue and bones supporting the teeth. Some individuals may also notice light pigmentation in their gums, which could indicate nothing more than a genetic pigmentation variation, however pigmented lesions warrant a trip to the dentist because they could be caused by a more severe underlying issue. While any of these issues may be cause for worry, Dr. Razi suggests patients pay close attention to pain and discomfort. “Signs and symptoms of pain or discomfort that affect normal daily activities such as eating, drinking, swallowing, sleeping [or] missing school due to a tooth or mouth problem may need further dental evaluation,” she says. People should also be wary if changes are seen from prior healthy gums and teeth. This change, such as swelling in the gums, loose teeth or obvious cavities, could indicate a more severe dental problem.
Adopting a healthy dental routine for your child could help stave off potential complications. “Routine flossing is one of the most important dental habits to form at a young age,” says Dr. Scott Thompson D.D.S., Chief Dental Officer of Kids Care Dental. “Combining tooth brushing with fluoride toothpaste also makes for a good oral health routine.” Perhaps most importantly, take your child to the dentist. The Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a child have their first check up by age 1. “If one waits for the typical signs of dental disease, such as pain or bleeding, then it is too late to prevent the problem. One should visit a dentist regularly starting very young before the disease takes hold,” Dr. Thompson says. “A regular check up with your dentist allows problems to be identified when they are small or even preventable.”
*Rafat S. Razi, D.M.D., M.P.H., Inc.
2160 W. Grant Line Rd., Ste. 130 (209) 834-1307, razipediatricdentist.com
*Dr. Scott Thompson D.D.S., Kids Care Dental
Offices in Lodi & Stockton (209) 957-4386, kidscaredentalgroup.com