Although dental hygiene and health are important for everybody, those who have Down syndrome may require extra attention. This is because the condition has been linked with a number of dental issues. Some of these are bite problems, which have far-reaching effects as far as dental health is concerned. If your child has Down syndrome, then some of the bite problems to expect include these ones:
People with Down syndrome tend to have small teeth, which mean the spaces between them are likely to be big. Here are a couple of problems that may stem from small teeth:
- Cosmetic issues – if the gaps are too big, then they may appear as missing teeth. This may make the child self-conscious about smiling.
- Gum exposure – the gums protect the teeth. This protection is not present in the large gaps, which means your child's teeth may get damaged by hard foods such as pretzels.
The dentist may prescribe braces to close the gaps. Other interventions include the use of veneers or Invisalign.
Small Upper Jaw
A smaller-than-normal upper jaw may result in overcrowding because it still has to support the same number of teeth as a normal-sized jaw. Problems associated with overcrowded teeth include these two:
- They are difficult to brush and floss – this means they are apt to accumulate bits of food remains and are prone to decay and dental carries.
- They may be crooked and interfere with your child's desire to smile.
Correction of overcrowded teeth includes the use of braces, extraction or use of veneers or Invisalign depending on the extent of the overcrowding.
Apart from overcrowding, a small upper jaw may also interfere with teeth eruption. Some teeth may not erupt fully because the existing teeth may block their way. This can easily lead to impacted teeth, which also has its set of problems, such as these three:
- Increase the risk of gum disease
- Develop cysts (fluid-filled sacs) below the gums
An impacted tooth may need to be extracted by a dentist.
Lastly, the combination of a small upper jaw and overcrowding may also mean that the lower teeth may be further out than they are supposed to be when the mouth is closed. A minor overbite may not require any intervention. If it is serious, then teeth extractions, braces, dental surgery (for repositioning the jaw) may be advisable.
If your child has Down syndrome, then it's important to watch out for these bite problems. As you can see, most of them require orthodontics to correct. Such treatments work best if they are started early. Of course, you should also help your child with his or her oral care routine to reduce the risks of other dental issues such as gum disease.