People with Down syndrome typically have saliva with a higher alkaline concentration. This is actually beneficial, as it enhances the protective qualities of their saliva, often resulting in greater resistance to cavities. This doesn't automatically mean that someone with Down syndrome will experience a higher standard of dental health, and they're certainly not immune to gingivitis. How can you protect your child with Down syndrome from being affected by gingivitis and periodontal disease?
If someone with Down syndrome was to develop gingivitis, the consequences can be more dire than they would be for the general population. This is thought to be due to an immunological deficiency, as their immune system is unable to efficiently combat the bacterial infection that leads to gingivitis and periodontal disease. Proper oral hygiene is the most effective means of preventing gingivitis, but this can be complicated for someone with Down syndrome.
Certain dental abnormalities are common in people with Down syndrome, and these can result in a malformation of the teeth. The upper jaw can often be overcrowded, lacking the necessary dimensions for the teeth that have developed. Additionally, teeth can be smaller than someone without Down syndrome, as well as being misaligned to varying degrees of severity. These issues can make basic hygiene more difficult to accomplish.
At Home Care
Gingivitis prevention starts at home. You might wish to give your child a refresher course in the best way to brush their teeth. It might be necessary to supervise them more carefully when they clean their teeth. They could also benefit from an upgrade to their equipment, such as an electric toothbrush, where less manual dexterity is required for efficient cleaning. But gingivitis prevention is also something that will be addressed at the dentist's office.
A Specialist Dentist
You might wish to find a dentist who works in special needs dentistry. This can be useful if your child has demonstrated reluctance to visit the dentist in the past. A new dentist's approach and general manner could be better suited to your child's needs. Your child should regularly receive intensive scaling and polishing to remove plaque before the accumulation of bacteria can lead to gingivitis. You can also discuss a comprehensive treatment plan for the years to come, such as whether your child requires palatal expansion to reduce upper jaw dental overcrowding. They might also be a suitable candidate for braces to correct the misalignment of their teeth.
Although children with Down syndrome can be adversely affected by gingivitis and periodontal disease, it's possible to largely avoid these problems.