Gingivitis is best described as inflammation of the gums. It occurs due to the body’s response to bacteria, which is present in high numbers in plaque. Luckily, having plaque on the teeth does not always lead to gingivitis. The problem occurs when plaque is not removed often enough or sufficient enough. When plaque (full of bacteria) sits where the teeth meet the gums for too long, the body starts to send infection fighting cells to your gums, causing them to be inflamed. You have probably had an infected cut at some point and saw the same thing happen there!

Inflammation of the gums is a problem for many reasons. Possibly the most important is tenderness and pain along the gum line, which may tempt a child to avoid brushing and flossing causing the gingivitis to continue and intensify. If a child has gingivitis, he or she may bleed during brushing and flossing (due to the inflammation) until the gingivitis is reversed. The only way to reverse gingivitis is to be diligent in plaque removal with both brushing and flossing.

The best thing you can do for your child is encourage him or her to brush and floss, even if it is not comfortable. You may want to brush and floss for your child, at least until the gingivitis subsides. Keep reminding them why it is important to have happy and healthy teeth. Below is a picture of proper brushing and flossing technique. It is important to brush and remove plaque along the gum line, and it is important to “c” shape floss in order to clean the entire side of the tooth and remove plaque. Happy brushing and flossing! See ya later gingivitis!

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