Oral Health News

October 2016

Educating ourselves on down syndrome

October is National Down Syndrome Awareness Month. Down syndrome is a genetic disorder. It is caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21 and results in growth delays and intellectual disability.

Down syndrome may affect the mouth in the following ways:

  • The mouth is usually small with a narrow roof.
  • Teeth may be missing, have short roots, or be small.
  • Teething may happen later than expected and teeth can sometimes erupt in a different order. Baby teeth may be lost later because permanent teeth are also delayed.
  • The mouth often hangs open because of a large tongue and low muscle tone.
  • Teeth may not fit together correctly when the person bites down.
  • Gums are more likely to become diseased (gingivitis/periodontitis).

In general, people with down syndrome should follow the same dental guidelines as everyone else! Floss holders and electric toothbrushes can make brushing and flossing easier and more effective for people with motor skill delays. Dentists may want to see patients with down syndrome more frequently because of the risk for gum disease.

More resources

Oral Health and Down Syndrome, Jessica De Bord, DDS, MS, MA