Down Syndrome Dental Problems: Can Affected Individuals Get Implants As A Solution?

Dentist Articles

Down syndrome affects many different physical and mental developments in the human body. Many of the these altered developments happen inside the mouth. Those with Down syndrome have more struggles with normal oral health. They may be discounted from regular remedial procedures for a number of reasons. However, there are some cases where dental repair is possible. The best way to prevent the need for advanced dental care is to make dental hygiene a priority.

Those with down syndrome are at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

Down syndrome brings some significant limitations to the function of the mouth. The form and function of the mouth are altered because:

  • the oral cavity is smaller. Those with Down syndrome have smaller bone structures, including the bones that make up the oral cavity. This small space makes it more difficult for the person to move food and saliva around properly. The chances of food getting stuck are much higher. A smaller mouth also leads to tooth crowding. 
  • teeth may be missing or abnormally shaped. It can be hard to brush teeth properly even when they are normally shaped. When teeth are missing, crowded, or shaped oddly, there are more places for food to hide and promote decay. 
  • the tongue is large. A defining characteristic of Down syndrome is the overlarge tongue, which is often smooth, with several cracks on the surface. The size of the tongue can make chewing and swallowing, as well as cleaning the teeth, more difficult, leading to increased levels of tooth decay. 
  • muscle movement is reduced. The dexterity needed to brush and floss the teeth, as well as to routinely clean the teeth with saliva, is lacking in those with Down syndrome. Incorrect cleaning increases the chances of developing dental caries. 

Because of these characteristics, as well as bruxism, periodontal disease is the number one dental problem faced by those with Down syndrome. Also, because they have missing teeth and may lose teeth due to decay, they are the ones who need interventions like dental implants or permanent dentures the most. Unfortunately, because of the unique circumstances facing these individuals, getting these procedures can be very complicated.

Those with Down syndrome may not have as much success with advanced dental repair. 

Along with the problems listed above, individuals with this condition also have weakened bone structure, similar to individuals with osteoporosis. Usually, dental implants are false teeth that are connected to a screw made from steel. During normal implant procedures, the screw is attached into the bone that supports the teeth. However, because this structure is both weaker and narrower in patients with Down syndrome, the implant may not be successful.

However, some patients have had success with custom implants, as long as the post is both shorter and wider than normal implant posts. For this procedure to be successful, it largely depends on the tooth and bone health in the prospective patient, along with their age and the severity of the problems with missing teeth. 

Also, another reason why restorative dental surgeries may not be as successful is because of post-operative care. Implants, veneers, and permanent dentures need to be cared for properly in order for them to continue to be effective. After any dental procedures, caregivers should be vigilant in establishing good cleaning habits and set up several follow up appointments to monitor the success of the surgery. 

Because reduced muscle function is normal in patients with Down syndrome, they are at higher risk for accidents which can compromise healthy teeth. Therefore, caregivers should also make sure they know the right first aid for saving teeth that are broken or knocked out, because it is easier to save a tooth than replace it in patients with this disability. 

For more information, contact a local dental clinic, like Insero.


22 January 2015

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