There's a lot of focus placed on keeping kids' teeth healthy. But there's another aspect of oral healthcare that deserves some attention -- gum health. Many children end up with gum disease, and while it may initially seem like a minor annoyance, it can progress to the point of causing loose teeth and permanent gum damage if left unaddressed. To ensure your child's gums stay healthy, follow these tips.
Make flossing easier for them.
Even as an adult, flossing takes some coordination and attention to detail. Chances are, your child is not flossing as effectively as they could. This could have a negative impact on gum health because the bacteria left between the teeth and along the gum line can lead to gum disease. Here are some ways to make flossing easier for your child so they're more likely to floss thoroughly:
- Give them flavored floss so they're more excited to use it
- Supply them with dental "flosser" picks, which are often easier to use than standard floss
- If your child struggles to floss, consider doing it for them -- at least for a few months until they better hone their skills
Give them crunchy foods.
Crunchy foods are helpful for keeping the gum line clean between brushing sessions. Munching on some celery or apples scrapes the plaque off of the teeth, especially right near the border with the gums, and this decreases the risk of gum disease. So, make your go-to snacks crunchy fruits and veggies, from carrots, to apples, to cauliflower florets. Don't use these as a substitute for teeth brushing, but rather as a mid-day touch-up when a toothbrush is not handy.
Find a good kids' mouthwash.
Antiseptic mouthwashes are great for removing those last oral bacteria that linger even after brushing and flossing. Since kids are not always the best brushers or flossers, mouthwash is very important for preventing gum disease. But unfortunately, the mouthwashes made for adults tend to be very strongly flavored and unappealing to kids. Shop for a mouthwash made just for kids, and encourage your little ones to use it after every brushing session. If they are still turned off by it, you can dilute it with a little water. It won't be quite as effective, but it's definitely better than nothing.
If you do notice that your child's gums are red and sore, talk to your dentist right away. Gum disease in kids is frequently overlooked, but prompt treatment is very important for ongoing dental health.