Down Syndrome and Dental Issues

If your child has Down syndrome, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that he or she has a few differences when it comes to oral care and tooth development.

Youngsters with Down syndrome usually see their baby teeth as well as their permanent teeth come in later than people who don’t have Down syndrome. Babies tend to get their first teeth at around at 6-12 months of age, while the teeth of Down syndrome babies on average see their first baby teeth erupt at a year to 14 months, sometimes even age 2. It’s also not unlikely that a Down syndrome child won’t get all of her baby teeth until age 4 or even 5. Permanent teeth for Down syndrome children usually come in around 8-9 years of age.

Those with Down syndrome also have larger tongues than people without it. Conversely, Down syndrome individuals may have a tongue of average size but have an upper jaw that’s smallish, leaving their mouth too small for their tongue. Parents also may notice that their Down syndrome child has fissures or grooves on his tongue.

People with Down syndrome also tend to have smaller teeth, resulting in larger gaps between teeth, yet their upper jaw may be small, crowding the teeth and causing them to become crooked. Bite issues also can manifest themselves as the small upper jaw means that the upper teeth may not lie correctly over the bottom teeth, resulting in bite issues.

The immune system of people with Down syndrome is impaired, resulting in more instances of periodontal disease because their body can’t fight the plaque and bacteria as well as those of people who don’t have Down syndrome.

If your child with Down syndrome has a heart defect, she may need to take some antibiotics before visiting the dentist (talk to your child’s physician). And be sure to tell your dentist if your child has any heart issues.

Your Down syndrome child also may grind her teeth. This is very common in all children and, while the issue in children who don’t have Down syndrome usually resolves itself on its own, it may not in children with Down syndrome.

While most people with Down syndrome are able to handle a visit to the dentist for regular checkups, local in-office anesthesia may not be a viable option for dental treatments due to the larger tongue, small airway and low muscle tone that could cause the airway to collapse. Your dentist may opt for general anesthesia to complete a dental treatment

For more information on dental care for people with Down syndrome, contact Plano dentist Dr. Darren Dickson by phone. You also may send us a message at [email protected].

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