Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is a painful type of gum disease that can cause long-term damage and serious side effects. The condition can affect anyone, but some people (including teens) are at higher risk of the disease than others. Learn more about the symptoms of necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis in teens, and find out what you can do to help your son or daughter cope with this unpleasant condition.
How the condition affects your mouth
Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis occurs when you get a serious infection in the gums surrounding the teeth. Gingivitis is common across the United States and occurs when dental plaque leads to inflammation in the gums. Left untreated, gingivitis can quickly become more serious, and may eventually lead to this form of the disease.
The name of this disease literally describes what happens to the mouth. Sores or ulcers can quickly appear on the gums, and the infection is likely to become so serious that the bacteria start to destroy (or necrotize) the tissue. In many cases, people with the condition lose their gingival papillae — the tips of the gums between the teeth.
People once referred to the condition as trench mouth because soldiers serving in the World War I trenches often suffered from the disease.
If your teen suffers from necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis, he or she will probably complain of painful symptoms. Pain levels can range from mild to severe, but the problem will often worsen when he or she chews. With this sort of infection, bleeding gums are also common, and you may also notice that your teen has bad breath.
On examination, a dentist may notice other symptoms. For example, a pseudomembrane will sometimes form where the gums have started to necrotize. If the dentist tries to remove this membrane, the gums will normally start to bleed heavily. Teens and children are also more likely to suffer with enlarged lymph glands under the chin.
If your teen has suffered from necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis before, he or she may experience a burning sensation in the gums. This symptom can signify the return of an infection.
Causes and risk factors
Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis often points to other underlying medical problems. Teens with diabetes mellitus, leukemia and some immune disorders are more likely to get the disease. Malnutrition and poor diet can also cause the condition.
Teens are also more likely to develop the condition because they face a lot of sources of stress. Psychological and physical stress can both increase the risk of this type of infection, and smoking can also exacerbate the symptoms. Poor dental hygiene will also increase the risk of necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis.
A physical examination will often allow a dentist to diagnose the condition. He or she may also take X-rays to understand if the disease has caused any problems with the teeth, and your teen should also have blood tests to spot any underlying medical conditions.
Dentists or periodontists can successfully treat the condition. To start with, your teen's treatment plan will focus on dealing with the infected tissue. Oral antibiotics can help tackle the infection, as well as an antiseptic mouth rinse like chlorhexidine. While the tissue heals, a dentist may also recommend a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory painkilling drugs.
Your teen may also need dental surgery. Using procedures called debridement or gingivectomy, the dentist will cut away any dying or dead gum tissue. Gingivoplasty is a different form of surgery that involves reshaping healthy gum tissue.
It's crucial that teens continue to see a dentist after the first visit. Even though the dentist may help ease the problem, it will probably take several sessions to properly deal with necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis. You should also make sure your teen closely follows any cleaning and aftercare instructions that your dentist gives.
Necrotizing ulcerative gingivitis is a painful, unpleasant condition that can make life miserable for your teen. Check if your son or daughter has any symptoms, and, if you spot any potential problems, make sure your teen sees a dentist straight away.