Down syndrome, a chromosomal disorder, results in an extra copy of a certain chromosome. It typically causes features such as a smaller head, facial flattening, short neck, tongue protrusion, eyelid abnormalities, short stature, and decreased muscle tone. Because people with Down syndrome have a chromosomal disorder, they may be at risk for developing abnormalities in just about any part of the body, including the oral cavity. Here are some things to consider about periodontal disease if your child has Down syndrome.

Symptoms And Causes Of Periodontal Diseases In Down Syndrome

The most common manifestations of periodontal disease include red, swollen gums. In addition, the gums may be more tender and bleed when brushing and flossing. In severe cases of periodontal disease, the gums may bleed without any provocation. Pain when chewing and an uneven bite may also be indicative of periodontal disease. Because people with Down syndrome often breathe through their mouths, they may be more susceptible to oral dryness.

When the mouth becomes too dry as a result of poor salivary flow, periodontitis-causing bacteria is not readily flushed away, and because of this, it multiplies inside the mouth. In addition, Down syndrome may also lead to clenching of the teeth and excessive tooth grinding, which are other risk factors for periodontal disease. Your child's family dentistry services professional may also notice that the patient's gum tissue is growing over their teeth, a condition is known as gingival hyperplasia, which further raises the risk for periodontal disease.

Treatments For Periodontal Disease For People With Down Syndrome

To help lower the risk for periodontal disease, encourage your child to perform their oral care as recommended by the dentist. If your child is unable to brush and floss their teeth because of decreased muscle tone or arm weakness, assist them as needed. Also, using an electric toothbrush or a water jet toothbrush may clean the teeth more effectively than a manual toothbrush. To help prevent dry mouth, make sure your child drinks plenty of water throughout the day to restore oral moisture and to help flush away germs.

Using an antimicrobial oral rinse may also help decrease bacteria inside the mouth. You can purchase antimicrobial mouthwashes at your grocery store or pharmacy; however, your child's dentist may recommend a prescription mouthwash. Finally, seeing the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups is one of the most important interventions for lowering the risk for periodontal disease in people with Down syndrome. 

If your child develops any of the above symptoms of periodontal disease, seek local family dentistry services as soon as possible. When periodontal disease is diagnosed and treated when it is still in its early stages, your child may be less likely to develop oral infections, dental decay, and tooth loss.