When you ask parents what they want for their kids, the run-of-the-mill answer they give is the deep desire for their kids to be happy. Indeed, the well-being of these tiny souls is more important to adults than anything else, easily beating even healthcare or world hunger! Good parents want their kids to stay out of trouble, do well in school, and go on to do incredible things as adults.
So evidently, it might be worrying to see your child in a position of hurt. While sprained ankles, bruised knees, and nosebleeds can be a staple of childhood, seeing your tot spat pink in the sink may be another level of distress for you. Have your child’s gums been bleeding lately? This could be a sign of gum disease in kids and can lead to numerous different health issues if not nipped in the bud.
But don’t worry! The International Association of Pediatric Dentistry (IAPD) reassures that improving brushing habits and feeding your toddler a more tooth-friendly diet can successfully reduce bleeding in 7 to 10 days! More about this below.
Causes of Bleeding Gums in Toddlers
Brushing too vigorously or biting into hard objects can be condemned for occasional bleeding of the gums. However, if you have been noticing your toddler experiencing red, tender, or swollen gums and frequent gum bleeding, it could be a sign of something serious.
Keep an eye out for these conditions your little one may be suffering from:
- Gum disease
The most common reason for bleeding gums is a condition called gingivitis, an infection of the gums which is characterized by the swelling, reddening, and bleeding of gums. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), plaque accumulation is often responsible for the incidence of gingivitis.
Failing to clean your toddler’s teeth and gums with a soft toothbrush or a washcloth can cause food debris and starch from milk products to settle on and under their gum line. Bacteria in the plaque biofilm act with voracious intent to flourish in exchange for an acidic oral environment. Once your baby’s mouth is invaded by acid-producing bacteria, widespread gum infection occurs.
In extreme cases, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis, a condition that highlights irreversible damage to the gums and bones and may even lead to the loss of teeth!
- Vitamin deficiencies
A lack of vitamin C and vitamin K in your child’s diet can impact their gums and cause them to bleed easily. Asking a pediatrician to check their levels of vitamin C and K and allowing your child to follow a diet rich in these nutrients can ensure healthy gums.
- High-sugar diet
The bacteria in our mouths convert starch and sugars into acid. This acid, in turn, creates a favorable environment for the bacteria to thrive in, allowing them to grow, invade, and cause gum disease and tooth cavities. If your child is ingesting foods that are high in sugar such as candies, juices, or dried fruit snack bars, they are at risk of gum disease.
Similarly, foods that are high in starch like crackers, pasta, or bread can also be detrimental to your child’s gum health.
- Dry mouth and gums
Unusually dry gums can bleed easily. Toddlers can develop dry gums and mouth as a result of breathing through their mouths instead of noses either due to an orthodontic or allergic issue.
- Gum injury
Healthy gums also bleed at times when injured. Vigorous brushing, brushing with a hard-bristled toothbrush, or biting into hard foods can cause gums to bleed.
Treatment for Bleeding Gums in Toddlers
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends all parents follow certain hacks to prevent their toddler’s gums from bleeding.
Gently brush your toddler’s teeth and gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush. If they’re too firm they can cause bleeding. It is important to brush your child’s teeth twice a day with no more than a smear of fluoridated toothpaste with the ADA Seal of Approval on the packaging. Help older kids brush their teeth and supervise as they do it on their own.
Flossing should start immediately after your toddler’s two teeth begin to touch. This usually starts around 2 to 3 years of age. Using floss or interdental brush to clean in between their teeth can help remove plaque and ensure proper gum and oral health. Bleeding while first learning to floss is normal but it should subside in a week or so of habitual flossing.
- Gum-friendly diet
What child east can heavily impact his mouth and teeth. Regularly serving a balanced diet full of veggies, fruits, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy can help replenish any lost nutrition in your child’s body. Also getting them used to drinking water and limiting their intake of sugary foods and beverages can go a long way in the battle against bleeding gums.
- Visit the dentist
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that a child goes to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts. Making timely visits to a dentist for cleaning and examination can help curb gum disease and other dental ailments before they turn ugly.
As a parent, it is important for you to stay calm and collected especially as you try to inculcate values in your child. Teaching your toddler to brush regularly may be a challenging feat but you can certainly make the experience worthwhile. Making up stories or songs about brushing, playing pretend dentist, and simply dancing while brushing can help keep tantrums at bay and ensure a healthy and squeaky clean mouth!
--- By Dr. Nandita Rana I The Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) from Sharda University.