4 Toothbrushing Tips for Caring for a Child with Down Syndrome

Posted on: 12 October 2016

You should make sure that your children brush their teeth every day in order to help prevent decay, bad breath, and gum disease. Unfortunately, it's often much harder to make a child with Down syndrome follow a good oral health routine. Like children without the condition, children with Down syndrome are vulnerable to the problems listed above. In fact, the condition's associated immunological deficiencies mean that gum disease can be a far more serious problem.

With this in mind, you need to make sure that your child's teeth are kept clean. Here are four ways to help them keep their teeth in good shape with a proper brushing routine.

1. Start Early

If you have a child with Down syndrome, especially if they are quite young, it's likely that you will need to brush their teeth for them. Unfortunately, children with Down syndrome often find it hard to tolerate having anything placed in their mouths, even if you explain that it is for their own good. For this reason, make sure you start as early as possible. As soon as the first tooth emerges even a little bit from the gums, begin brushing.

2. Keep to a Set Routine

Most children with Down syndrome gain comfort from following a set routine, and this is something that you should use to your advantage. Make sure you brush their teeth at the same time each day. You should also try to follow a set routine while brushing; for example, starting at the upper left and ending at the bottom right.

3. Take the Size of the Mouth into Account

The facial structure associated with Down syndrome commonly results in a narrow dental arch. The mouth is often smaller than normal, so this is something that needs to be considered. Try finding smaller toothbrushes with small circular heads.

4. Provide an Electric Toothbrush

If your child is able to brush their own teeth, they still might not be able to do so quite as well as you can. This is because Down syndrome is generally associated with reduced fine motor skills, which will make it harder for your child to reach all parts of the mouth properly. For this reason, it is usually best to provide them with an electric toothbrush. The larger handle makes an electric toothbrush easier to hold, and your child will only need to press the brush against their teeth instead of manually moving it back and forth.

For more advice, contact a local dentist.