Periodontal Disease Knows No Age Boundaries

WILLIAMSPORT, COLLEGEVILLE AND PHILADELPHIA, PA – When people think of periodontal disease, they typically associate it with adults. But that is a huge misconception, according to a Philadelphia periodontist.

Periodontal disease can affect children, too. In fact, studies have shown that almost all youth have gingivitis, which is the first stage of periodontal disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.

Periodontal disease is caused by plaque buildup, and can begin as early as infancy, according to an article on U.S. National Library of Medicine website. In most cases your child’s gum inflammation won’t become more than superficial. But in some cases, the problem can heighten and result in loss of attachment.
The advanced stages of periodontal disease occur less frequently in children than adults, but they still can occur, says Dr. David DiGiallorenzo, a Philadelphia dental implants expert and periodontist. Being educated on what periodontal disease is and the warning signs of it can help you as a parent keep an eye out for symptoms in your children.

“The sooner that early stages of periodontal disease are detected and treated, the better,” Dr. DiGiallorenzo says, adding that advanced forms of periodontal disease could be a sign of systemic disease.

Children with overt gingival inflammation, subgingival calculus, or the beginning signs of bone loss are labeled as being at risk for periodontitis and should be included in a preventive program as early as possible, according to the USNLM website.

There are four types of periodontal disease commonly found in children:

  • Chronic gingivitis- this results in swollen, red gums that are prone to bleeding easily.
  • Aggressive periodontitis- commonly detected in teenagers and young adults, this causes severe loss of alveolar bone. It tends to affect the first molars and incisors.
  • Generalized aggressive periodontitis may start at puberty and can involve the entire mouth. Its characteristics include gum inflammation and heavy plaque and calculus buildup. Eventually, it can lead to loosening of the teeth.
  • Periodontitis associated with systemic disease can happen to children as well as adults. Medical conditions that make children more prone to periodontal disease include: Type I diabetes, and Down, Kindler and Papillon-Lefevre syndromes.

Gingivitis can be prevented and even treated simply by maintaining a good regimen of brushing, flossing and professional dental care, says the periodontics expert. Untreated gingivitis can usher in more serious forms of periodontal disease.

One method that many periodontists- Dr. DiGiallorenzo included- effectively and easily treat periodontal disease is with the procedure known as LANAP. LANAP- which is short for “laser assisted new attachment procedure,” makes it possible to remove disease-filled gum tissue without cutting and suturing.

LANAP uses a laser to gently pass between the gum line and the teeth to rid the mouth of  disease and leave healthy tissue in its place. LANAP employs a fiberoptic that is comparable in size to about three human hairs. The procedure uses ultrasonic root debridement to clean root surfaces, followed by a different laser setting to clot the blood so Dr. DiGiallorenzo gets a good seal, thus eliminating the need to use sutures.

“LANAP has been a popular treatment option for several years now, and has resulted in  phenomenal treatment outcomes,” he says. “Patients are continually surprised by the painlessness and simplicity of the procedure.”