Down syndrome is a chromosomal disorder that leads to developmental delays, including delayed tooth eruption. Delayed tooth eruption means that a child's teeth don't grow through their gums on schedule, and it can lead to dental problems later in life. Here are three things parents need to know about Down syndrome and delayed tooth eruption.
What are the signs of delayed tooth eruption?
Normally, children's teeth erupt on a fairly regular schedule. The first baby teeth appear when children are between six and 10 months of age, and the last baby teeth have erupted by the time they're 33 months old. At around age six or seven, the baby teeth start to fall out and are replaced with adult teeth. Most of the adult teeth should be present by the time a child is 13 years old, though the wisdom teeth may not appear until they're 21.
Your child's teeth may follow this schedule, but often, children with Down syndrome experience delayed tooth eruption. Their first baby teeth might not appear until they're two years old, and they may still have their baby teeth during their teenage years. It's a good idea to track the eruption of your child's teeth on your own so that you can alert your child's dentist to any problems. Your child's dentist will also monitor the eruption of their teeth during your child's yearly dental exams.
Why is delayed tooth eruption a concern?
The delayed eruption of baby teeth is an inconvenience as it prevents you from introducing your child to solid foods. However, the delayed eruption of permanent teeth is an even bigger problem.
The baby teeth act as placeholders for the permanent teeth that will replace them. When a baby tooth falls out, the permanent tooth beneath it grows into the vacant space. If this permanent tooth doesn't erupt on schedule, the gap that it needs to grow into may close as teeth shift positions in the mouth. The tooth may become impacted (trapped) or it may erupt, but lead to crowding within the mouth.
How can dentists help?
If your child loses a baby tooth and a permanent tooth doesn't grow into that space on schedule, their dentist can place a space maintainer to save room for the permanent tooth that will eventually erupt. A space maintainer has two parts: a crown and a loop. The crown portion is attached to the tooth adjacent to the missing tooth, while the loop reserves the open space. Once the permanent tooth starts to grow in, the space maintainer will be removed.
If your child has Down syndrome and their teeth aren't developing on schedule, take them to a dentist. Visit a site like http://www.nwidentist.com/ for more info.