3 Dental Issues To Watch For In Children With Down Syndrome

If you're the parent of a child who was born with Down Syndrome, you're no doubt aware that your child is at greater risk for certain medical problems, like heart defects or thyroid problems. What can be easy to overlook is that your child is also at risk for certain dental problems as well. While tooth problems don't carry the same immediate risks for your child as medical issues, they do have the potential to greatly impact your child's life if not properly treated. Take a look at a few dental issues to watch for in your child.

Delayed Growth

Parents of children with Down syndrome may notice that their children's baby teeth grow in later than those of children without the condition. By itself, this is not a problem. However, children with Down syndrome are also slower to lose their baby teeth and grow new permanent teeth.

This means that your child's baby teeth may be subject to more wear and tear than the average child's baby teeth, because your child will probably have them longer. Baby teeth are typically less hardy than permanent teeth, so you may need to be extra vigilant when it comes to protecting your child from cavities. Your child with Down syndrome may need more frequent dental visits than other children.

Uneven Bite

It's not uncommon for children with Down syndrome to grow teeth that are unusually small or unevenly spaced. Some permanent teeth may fail to grow in at all, leaving gaps. The result is an uneven bite.

The problem of an uneven bite is more than simply cosmetic. It can cause headaches, jaw pain, difficulty eating, and speech problems. Your dentist may be able to mitigate these problems with braces or other tooth straightening remedies.


Children who have Down syndrome are sometimes prone to bruxism, or nighttime tooth grinding. This can be a difficult problem to identify because it happens during sleep, so your child may not be aware of it themselves. However, if your child complains of a sore or tender jaw, headaches, or neck pain in the mornings, they may be grinding their teeth at night. Your child's dentist may be able to identify bruxism by examining the wear and tear on your child's back teeth.

Bruxism can be addressed in several ways, but the most common – and usually the easiest – solution is a nighttime mouth guard. This is a plastic retainer-like device that your child wears while they sleep. This will prevent him or her from grinding their teeth.

Many common dental problems associated with Down syndrome can be lessened by early intervention from your child's dentist. Choose a pediatric dentist who has experience treating children with special challenges, and begin taking your child to the dentist early and often to head off problems before they start. Check sites like http://www.childrensdent.com for more information.