Dental Care for Children with Down Syndrome

TeethChildren with Down Syndrome have a few differences in the way they develop teeth. It typically takes longer for children with Down Syndrome to develop their teeth. Baby teeth commonly appear when the child is 1 to 4 years of age.Sequence of Development & Missing Teeth

Teeth do not always follow the typical sequence of development, with the bottom front teeth erupting first, this includes baby teeth and adult teeth. Also, adult teeth may erupt out of place and these erupting adult teeth may not always push out baby teeth. Half of all children with Down Syndrome will have missing adult teeth. Absence of adult teeth may not be considered a problem for children with Down Syndrome, because the mouths of children with Down Syndrome are smaller than those of their peers. An orthodontist may elect to remove adult teeth to prevent overcrowding.

Tooth Decay & Gum Disease

Some studies suggest that dental decay is less frequent in children with Down Syndrome. However, gum disease is more prevalent. Finally, irregularities in the tooth enamel of children with Down Syndrome are common. Pits in the surface of the tooth can occur making food more likely to collect on the surface.

Locating a Dentist or Orthodontist

It is critical that caregivers of children with Down Syndrome locate dentists and orthodontists that understand the special dental needs of children with Down Syndrome. The following medical clinics may have dental and orthodontic departments. A pediatric dentist or orthodontist usually has training in treating children with special needs and may be adequate in caring for the child with Down Syndrome's dental needs. Beginning regular dental visits, after a child's first birthday, will help the child become more comfortable with the dentist and ease stress during future dental treatments.

Dental Considerations for a Child with a Heart Defect

It is not uncommon for children with Down Syndrome to have heart defects. If a child has a history of heart a defect they may require antibiotics prior to dental exams and procedures. Caregivers should be aware of this and consult the child's cardiologist to determine if antibiotics are necessary.

Routine Dental Care

Regular brushing of the teeth and especially the tongue and gums should be encouraged to ensure adequate dental health. Children with Down Syndrome are prone to developing fissures of the tongue due to mouth breathing. Brushing the tongue will assist in keeping it clean and free of infection. Also, a good dental routine in the child's home will help the child to become more comfortable when visiting a dentist or orthodontist.



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