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Can Down Syndrome Medications Cause Dental Problems?

It can be really difficult to make sure children are receiving proper oral hygiene. They’re restless and impatient, which makes brushing and flossing routines difficult, and they really hate dentists for the most part. This becomes especially true of children with Down syndrome and dental care.

Between the various dental care issues, like delayed tooth eruption and bruxism, it can be much harder to establish a great oral hygiene routine with children who have Down Syndrome. Parenting children with Down syndrome requires a lot of extra patience and creativity, and comes with a whole new set of questions.

For example, a common question that many parents ask is whether the medications for Down syndrome affect oral health and cause dental problems. I will take a look at the answer to this question in the article, and answer a few more. With over 20 years of experience in private practice, including working with children who have special needs, I want to offer some insight and set your mind at ease.

Medications and Down Syndrome

The bad news is that some medications can adversely affect the oral health of children with Down syndrome. This doesn’t mean you should stop taking them, as the medications are necessary to the overall health and wellness of your child.

The reason that these medications may cause dental problems is due to their high sugar content. Many medications for children come in liquid form or chewable tablets, so children who have trouble swallowing can still take them. The problem is that the way these companies ensure that your children will take these medications without a fight is by making them more palatable.

The companies strive to make the medications taste more like candy. The way they do this is by adding a lot of sugar to the medications. Sugar is one of the leading causes of dental problems among everyone – children and adults, with or without special needs.

This means that the medication, by itself, is not necessarily the cause; rather, the fact that it is high in sugar means it should be treated with the same caution as a diet that is high in candy and sugar gets treated with when it comes to oral hygiene… especially because the issues like malocclusion, microdontia, and short roots in teeth can all increase the risk of cavities.

Prevention and Maintenance

The way to avoid this increased risk of dental problems from sugary medications is by practicing proper dental hygiene and care. If you can find products with Xylitol for your children with Down syndrome, giving it to them to coat their teeth before they take the sugary medication will decrease the rate of dental decay.

One of the easiest things you can do is to balance the sugary medicines with a very nutritious diet. Cutting out sugary snacks and juices in favor of more nutritious options can go a long way towards cavity prevention.

Make sure you take the time to brush and floss several times a day. Teaching your child how to handle this routine and making it fun enough to keep them engaged will help them take charge of their own oral care.

Finally, visit your dentist regularly. Partnering with a great pediatric dentist who has experience working with patients with Down syndrome can prevent your child from being afraid to visit the dentist. Regular cleanings will help prevent cavities from forming as well.

Dr. Greg Grillo (

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