Gum recession, when the gums pull away from the teeth, is not something that would normally be associated with children. In fact, a US study (for lack of a similar Australian study) found that 71% of people aged 50-59 had at least some gum recession.
As a parent who makes sure that your children take good care of their teeth, to see even a hint of gum recession in your child's mouth can leave you wondering what went wrong. First of all, do not panic. Gum recession can be treated, and gum tissue can be returned to its normal position. Book an appointment with a family dentist, and then try to determine the cause.
Is Your Child's Oral Health Good?
Many things can contribute to poor oral health. If your child doesn't drink enough water, they may suffer from dry mouth. A dry mouth lacks saliva and without an adequate supply of saliva, food debris and bacteria cannot be neutralized and washed from the mouth and into the stomach.
It also only takes around 10 days for plaque, the thin, sticky bio-film filled with bad bacteria, to harden into tartar. If your child doesn't brush enough, a build-up of tartar can irritate gums and cause them to recede. Poor diet also plays a role, especially when combined with poor oral hygiene.
Red, swollen and inflamed gums may be present along with gum recession when a child's oral health is to blame.
Are They Brushing Their Teeth Correctly?
Hard-bristled tooth brushes can irritate gum tissue, causing it to recede. Moreover, if your child is overzealous when brushing their teeth, aggressively sawing from side to side with little control over where the brush ends up, this could also harm their gums.
Have They Recently Injured Their Mouth?
Trauma to the mouth can also damage gum tissue. When gum tissue is struck or injured in some way, it may recede, pulling away from the teeth it is supposed to be protecting.
Do They Grind Their Teeth at Night?
Nocturnal grinding is quite common in young children. Because a person has no control over how much force they exert with their teeth whilst asleep, they grind their teeth so much that it wears the teeth down and causes the gums to recede. If you have heard your child grinding their teeth at night, this may be the cause of the gum recession.
Ultimately, whatever you think the cause is, you should have your family dentist examine your child to both determine the cause and treat the damaged gum tissue. Gum tissue can be regenerated or grafted to restore the gums to their natural position.