September is National Gum Care Awareness Month, so now is the perfect time to teach your children about gum health. The more they can keep their gums healthy, the better their overall dental health will be throughout their lives.
What are the Gums For?
Your gums, also called the gingiva, are extremely important. They are the soft tissues that not only hold your teeth in place, they cover and protect the roots by providing a seal against disease-causing bacteria.
Good Gum Health Practices Can Help Prevent Gum Diseases
Almost half of all adults in the United States have periodontal, or gum, disease, a condition that if allowed to progress to its worst, can result in tooth loss. Even when gum disease is in its early stages it can cause problems like discomfort and pain, bad breath, or bleeding gums.
There are a number of causes for gum disease. Dental plaque is one of them. Plaque is a sticky film that forms on your teeth’s surface. It starts as a clear film, then becomes visible within 12 hours. If not removed, it can harden and become tartar both on the teeth and under the gumline.
The best plan of action is to teach your children about proper gum care and gum health. Children (and adults) should brush their teeth twice a day (morning and evening) with a soft-bristled toothbrush, and floss once a day. Twice yearly, they need to visit their pediatric dentist for a professional cleaning and examination.
Children should be taught not to “scrub” their teeth or gums. Overzealous brushing can irritate the gums, causing them to become inflamed and damaged, or even wear away the gums, thus exposing the roots and allowing harmful bacteria and gum disease to take hold. Receding gums do not grow back, so it is important to start a good habit now.
Signs of gum disease can include:
- Swollen or red gums
- Bleeding gums when you brush or floss
- Gum tenderness
- Receding gums along the gumline
- Pus in the gums
- Loose tooth or teeth
See our related post on The Effects of Poor Dental Hygiene on Your Kid’s Body
How Young Should Good Gum Health Begin?
You should begin caring for your children’s oral health as soon as their first tooth appears—about 6 months of age. At around six years old, your child should be able to brush their teeth on their own. The best way to teach is to demonstrate on yourself the proper brushing methods. Then have your child practice while you are watching. Around two minutes is a recommended length of time to brush.
Insert fun into the brushing routine with a kid-friendly electric toothbrush and a flavored toothpaste. Electric toothbrushes have been shown to remove up to 21% more plaque than manual brushing and can help mitigate the instinct to scrub. They can also come with a built-in timer that turns the toothbrush off automatically after the two-minute optimal brushing time.
Smile Wonders Pediatric Dentistry Teaches Good Gum Health
At Smile Wonders, we want your children to be successful in their oral and gum health care, so we’ll be glad to teach you—and them—the proper way to care for their oral health. Beginning at age one, we’ll start working on healthy dental habits that will last your children a lifetime.
Our Reston, Virginia pediatric dentistry office provides a full range of pediatric dental services for children, including routine exams, preventive dental care, laser dentistry, sealants, fillings, crowns, laser tongue-tie and lip-tie correction, and more. To schedule your appointment, contact Smile Wonders at 571-350-3663.