When your child has Down syndrome, special considerations have to be made when it comes to dental care. As a parent, you can plan ahead for those moments when dental care might prove challenging. Here are some of the most common dental needs and ways in which you and your pediatric dentist can address them.
A common occurrence with children who have Down syndrome is a delay in development in teeth. Compared to other children, your child's teeth might erupt at a later time. This is usually not a cause for concern. However, if your child's teeth do not erupt within the time that is most common for children with Down syndrome, talk to your dentist.
Your child's first baby tooth might not erupt until up to the 24th month. His or her full set of baby teeth might not completely erupt until four or five years of age. Permanent teeth might not erupt until your child is nine years old.
Children with Down syndrome are more susceptible to periodontal disease due to various factors, including a compromised immune system. To help combat this problem, it is important that your child practice good dental hygiene. Encourage your child, when he or she is able, to independently brush and floss. This helps to impress the importance of good dental care on your child.
You also need to inform your dentist when your child has signs of periodontal disease. Signs can include bleeding gums, swelling, and pain. If the disease recurs often, the dentist might recommend using an antimicrobial agent. Depending on your child's capabilities, the agent can be delivered through a mouthwash, spray bottle, or toothpaste.
Some children suffer from problems with their bite due to structural factors related to Down syndrome. For instance, your child is likely to have small teeth with a space between them. As a result, your child's teeth can start to crowd, which can prevent the permanent teeth from coming in as they should.
One solution that your dentist might recommend once your child's permanent teeth are in is to have your child wear braces. The braces will help to correct the bite, but they can present an additional challenge. Your child's teeth might be even more difficult to clean with the braces in place. If your child has trouble with brushing and flossing, your dentist might recommend a different orthodontic appliance.
Your child's dentist can help you handle any other dental problems that your child suffers. Alert him or her at the first sign of trouble to get the best care as soon as possible.