When the word ‘dental health’ pops up, most people’s minds immediately think of the teeth, and all the auxiliary care practices (including those painful visits to the dentist). However, effective dental care extends to the gums, which are as equally important as the teeth themselves. For one, if your child’s gums swell – or have any other issue – they will experience varying levels of difficulty and pain when chewing their food. Hence, it’s important to schedule a dental appointment as soon as any problems arise.
What Causes Swollen Gums?
Swollen gums on a child are usually occasioned by the presence of bacteria in their mouths. Just like with adults, regular brushing and flossing will hamper most of the bacterial activity in your child’s mouth, significantly reducing the chances of gum swelling.
Notably, a child’s mouth begins to entertain bacteria as soon as their first teeth pops out, and hence the need to start an oral cleansing routine as soon as that happens. If you’re a first-time parent, it is very important to consult a dentist within 6 months of teething.
Other additional factors that may lead to your child’s gums swelling over their teeth include:
- Malnutrition – Although very rare in many countries, severe nutrient deficiency can cause gum problems. Feeding your child with a consistently balanced and healthy diet keeps their gums, and overall body healthy.
- Gum Disease – Unchecked bacterial growth can lead to gum disease, which causes considerable damage to the gums and jaws. There are two types of gum disease; periodontitis, which is the severe version, and gingivitis, a milder version.
- Dry Mouth – This is when the mouth doesn’t contain enough saliva, which may be as a result of certain medications, underlying conditions, or severe dehydration. Saliva typically inhibits bacterial growth and lacking it can accelerate gum infections.
Can You Treat Swollen Gums?
Yes, swollen gums can be treated, but to be on the safe side, a timely visit to a pediatric dentist is necessary to determine the cause of the illness and thus the appropriate treatment. For instance, if the problem is caused by gum disease, the prescription may be some special oral rinses or toothpaste. That, however, mostly works for mild to moderate cases. Advanced or severe cases may require a more specialized procedure known as scaling, which involves thorough removal of bacteria and plaque from the teeth and gums.
Notably, you may not be in a position to visit a dentist when your child develops gum complications. Home remedies will, in that case, be of utmost necessity. Saltwater solutions, in particular, make quite an effective antibacterial mouthwash when gurgled and swished around the mouth. Ideally, you should only use one teaspoon of salt for a cup of water and have the swishing done at least 3 times a day.
You can also use a hot compress to reduce gum swelling and the associated discomfort. Rehydration, in case of a dry mouth, also works to stimulate saliva production, which aids in bacterial elimination in the mouth.
How to Prevent Swollen Gums
Swollen gums can occur repeatedly, even after treatment, hence the need to adopt a proactive approach, which would save you lots of money while keeping your child’s teeth healthy and pain-free. Adopting and maintaining good oral hygiene practices – primarily brushing at least twice a day (for a minimum of two minutes each time) and regular flossing is the most effective strategy. Regular dental appointments – basically once every 6 months – also helps identify any arising issues earlier on, which makes treatment easier, cheaper, and more painless.
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