Achieve optimal oral health in your familyResearchers suggest periodontal disease can pass through saliva. This means that the common contact of saliva in families may put children and couples at risk for contracting the periodontal disease of another family member.
Based on this research, The American Academy of Periodontology
(AAP) recognizes that treatment of gum disease may involve entire families. If one family member has periodontal disease, the AAP recommends that all family members see a dental professional
for a periodontal disease screening.
Parents should also be aware that periodontal disease is not just
an adult health problem. In fact, studies indicate that gingivitis is nearly a universal finding in children and adolescents. Gingivitis is the first level of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial gum infection that progresses over time and can become more advanced with age.
To ensure healthy teeth as an adult, good oral health habits should be established as a child. Parents can encourage good at home oral health habits in children. For example, parents may want to reward children with visits from the tooth fairy not just when a tooth is lost, but also when a child receives a clean bill of health from the dentist.
Evidence shows that periodontal disease may increase during adolescence due to lack of motivation to practice oral hygiene. Children who maintain good oral health habits through the teen years are more likely to continue brushing and flossing than children who were not taught proper oral care.
Periodontal disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults. In addition, research has linked it to more serious health threats such as diabetes, cardiovascular and respiratory disease, and pre-term low-birthweight babies.
Periodontists recommend remembering the basics. Replace toothbrushes every few months or
when the bristles begin to look frayed. Floss daily to break up the bacterial colonies between teeth
that can cause periodontal disease. And, seek dental care for professional cleanings, as well as screenings for periodontal disease.
Free brochures entitled
Caring For Your Child’s Teeth and
Gums and Periodontal Diseases:
What You Need To Know are available
by calling 1-800-FLOSS-EM
or by using the AAP’s online
request form at www.perio.org.
Simple tips help ensure healthy smilesYour periodontist and his or her staff can give you tips for improving the oral health of your
family, including demonstrating proper home care techniques.
Here's some additional tips:
- Know what medications family members are taking and let your dental professionals know about these. Many medications can dry out the mouth, which can cause bad breath and eventually periodontal disease.
- If you’re thinking about becoming pregnant, see a periodontist. About a quarter of women of childbearing age have periodontitis, which can put their unborn babies at risk. In fact, they may be as much as seven times more likely to deliver a premature and underweight baby.
- Monitor your family to see if anyone has the habit of teeth grinding. Grinding can cause cracked or chipped teeth and can increase the risk of developing periodontal disease. Dentists can make custom-fitted night bite guards to prevent teeth grinding at night.
- Up to 30% of the population may be genetically susceptible to developing severe periodontal disease. Genetic testing could result in the early identification and treatment of at-risk patients.
- Be aware that if your family drinks a lot of bottled water, they may be missing out on the fluoridation that has been added to public water systems for several decades. Children who drink adequately fluoridated water have up to 50 percent fewer cavities than children who do not.