4 Things To Know About Oral Care For Children With Down Syndrome
There are around 6,000 babies born each year with Down syndrome. This condition not only affects a child's ability to learn, but it can also affect the child in many other ways, including the child's oral health. If you have a child that was born with Down syndrome, it is important for you to understand the oral risks your child was inherently born with. Here are four things you should understand about your child and his or her oral development and health.
Children With Down Syndrome Have Delayed Tooth Eruption
While it is common for babies to begin getting their teeth when they are between 6 to 12 months old, babies with Down syndrome usually will not get their first tooth until they are at least 12 to 14 months old. On average, a normal child will have 20 teeth by the age of two or three, while a child with Down syndrome will not until the age of four or five.
This delayed tooth eruption is beneficial in a sense, because it can delay oral problems, but kids with Down syndrome tend to have a lot more oral issues than kids without Down syndrome. While researchers are not exactly sure what causes this, it seems to be a trend with children born with this condition. Part of the reason may be due to the difference in the way a child's jaw and tongue form when he or she has Down syndrome, but it may also occur for other reasons.
When the child's teeth do finally erupt, it is very common for the teeth to be smaller than normal, and it is normal for the teeth to have shorter roots.
They Are Also Prone To Missing Or Impacted Teeth
It is also common for children with Down syndrome to have congenitally missing teeth. When a tooth is congenitally missing, it means that a permanent tooth will never grow in the child's mouth. In addition, they may have trouble making room for all the permanent teeth that are there. This occurs because of the small shape of the upper jaw bone. This smaller jawbone creates space issues, which can lead to impacted teeth.
They Can Have A Higher Risk Of Oral Issues
Children with Down syndrome generally have a higher flow of saliva in their mouths, and this is beneficial for helping reduce the risk of cavities forming. Unfortunately, though, they can have a higher risk of developing problems with their gums. This is primarily due to the difference in the biological composition of plaque in a child with Down syndrome compared to a child without.
In addition to gum issues, kids born with Down syndrome may also need to have orthodontics to correct spacing and alignment issues with the teeth. They may also have a higher risk for developing bruxism, which is grinding of the teeth. Some studies also show that kids with Down syndrome may also be at a higher risk for developing breathing disorders, such as sleep apnea.
Your Child May Need More Dental Visits
The final thing to understand is that if you have a child with Down syndrome, you may need to take him or her to the dentist more frequently. Prevention of problems is one goal of dentistry, but early detection of issues is another goal.
You will need to find a family dental office that is experienced at working with kids with Down syndrome, because this type of dentist will be able to help you understand what you can do to help your child develop good oral care habits.
Good oral care habits and regular visits to the dentist are important for everyone, but they may be even more important for a child with Down syndrome. To learn more, contact a family dental care clinic like Crest Hill Family Dental.