When it comes to gum disease, most of us consider it to be a condition that happens later in life. Yet, the reality is that several forms of gum disease are quite common in children and can lead to serious periodontal problems and even early tooth loss. Interestingly, a new strategy is emerging to help in the prevention of childhood gum disease, and it’s as simple as replacing the standard nylon-bristled toothbrush with one that has rubber bristles.
A new study, published in the Journal of Oral Hygiene & Health, compared subjects who were split into two groups. One control group used a traditional nylon-bristled toothbrush and the test group used a toothbrush with bristles fabricated out of the same rubber used in professional dental cleaning tools. Researchers concluded that the rubber-bristle brush reduced the risk of gum recession in patients compared to the control group.
Causes of Childhood Gum Disease
As in adults, gum recession is an early stage of gum disease in children. While some children and adolescents are genetically more prone to developing gum disease than others, the most common causes are insufficient dental care and aggressive tooth brushing. By helping to eliminate these two risk factors, you can greatly reduce your child’s chances of developing gingivitis and periodontitis – two of the most common gum diseases found in children.
With findings from the toothbrush study performed by researchers at the College of Dental Medicine at Western University of Health Sciences, there is new evidence that shows that the type of toothbrush used can have a significant impact on gum tissue. This is particularly promising for children who develop gum disease at an early age. By switching to a less abrasive alternative to the traditional nylon-bristle toothbrush, the impact of aggressive tooth brushing can be minimized. The result is slowing down gum loss and even the potential for regrowth of new gum tissue.
In children, gum recession, caused by aggressive tooth brushing, increases the risk of cavities, as well as tooth sensitivity. However, a toothbrush with minimally-abrasive bristles may allow recovery from the constant trauma of overbrushing. The study showed that a toothbrush made of soft, rubbery, short bristles was more effective in preventing gum recession and contributed to gum tissue regrowth. This toothbrush also was shown to be as effective as a nylon bristle brush in removing plaque from teeth.
Advice for Parents
While swapping out your child’s nylon-bristle toothbrush with one with rubber bristles can be beneficial, it’s not the only step necessary in protecting your child from developing gum disease. Other important preventive strategies include:
- Establishing good dental habits as early as possible – Begin brushing your child’s teeth at 12 months old and flossing as soon as gaps between teeth begin to close.
- Being a role model – Teach your child to brush and floss. Practice good dental hygiene on a daily basis.
- Scheduling regular dental visits – This include checkups, cleanings and periodontal evaluations.
- Identifying symptoms of gum disease – On a regular basis, check your child’s mouth for any early signs of gum disease, such as bleeding or swollen gums or bad breath.