Children with Down syndrome have more problems when it comes to their teeth and dental care due to physical and mental challenges. Below is some information about these problems so you can be prepared for them, and offer your child the best dental care that you can.
Missing and Smaller Malformed Teeth
Your child will likely have smaller teeth, and some of their teeth may never erupt. The roots on the teeth are typically shorter. In most cases, the teeth will not have as much enamel on them, which can cause the teeth to be misshapen. You should start watching your child's teeth as soon as the first one appears for these problems.
Because your child has smaller teeth, there will be more space between them. Many children with Down syndrome also have a smaller upper jaw, which can crowd the teeth, and permanent teeth may not have enough room to erupt.
Because of this, your child may have an overbite. If so, you will notice their bottom teeth are further out than the top teeth when their mouth is closed. If your child has this problem, the dentist may refer them to an orthodontist for dental treatment.
Your child may grind their teeth, which is also known as bruxism, at night, as well as throughout the day, as this is common with someone with Down syndrome. If your child is doing this, however, it can cause great damage to their teeth by wearing down the enamel. This can be uncomfortable for your child as this may result in rough edges on the teeth. They may also have headaches and a sore jaw.
Your dentist may suggest your child wear a mouth guard at night, which would cover both the upper and lower teeth. They may suggest your child chew on something else during the day to help with the problem, such as a baby's teething toy. Your dentist will likely want to see your child more often if they have this problem to keep an eye on their teeth.
People with Down syndrome have an impaired immune system, which makes them have a higher risk of gum disease, also known as periodontal disease. Make sure your child brushes their teeth at least twice per day, focusing on brushing along the gum line. The dentist will monitor their teeth at their visits by taking X-rays to monitor bone levels, as well as take a closer look at the gums. If you notice your child's teeth bleed when they brush or floss, this means they are inflamed.
Make sure you take your child to a pediatric dentist (such as Myriam Cerezo DMD) that is experienced with working with children that have Down syndrome.