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Down Syndrome and Oral Healthcare

Periodontal disease and cavities are the most significant oral health problems in people with Down syndrome, and oral care is just as important for them as for anyone else. Contributing factors to these conditions include poor oral hygiene and misaligned teeth. However, children and young adults with Down syndrome and oral care that is routine tend to have fewer cavities than people without this developmental disability.

Down Syndrome and Oral Healthcare: An Overview

People with Down syndrome have no unique oral health problems. However, some of the oral problems they have tend to be frequent and severe. Early professional treatment and daily care at home can reduce the severity of oral health problems and allow people with Down syndrome to enjoy the benefits of a healthy mouth.
Two oral health problems that people with Down syndrome and their families should be aware of include:
  • Periodontal disease
  • Dental cavities.

Down Syndrome and Oral Healthcare: Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is the most significant oral health problem in people with Down syndrome. Children with this condition tend to experience rapid, destructive periodontal disease. Consequently, a large number of people with Down syndrome lose their permanent front teeth in their early teens. Other factors that contribute to periodontal disease seen in children and adults with Down syndrome include:
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Malocclusion (misaligned teeth)
  • Bruxism (clenching and grinding of teeth)
  • Conical-shaped tooth roots.
Some patients benefit from the daily use of an antibacterial medicine, such as chlorhexidine.
Some people with Down syndrome can brush and floss independently, but many need help. A power toothbrush or a floss holder can simplify oral care. Also, a consistent approach to oral hygiene is important -- caregivers should try to use the same location, timing, and positioning.
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