Friday, May 15, 2009

This is the Way We Brush Our Teeth

6 months old and toothlessWho likes to go to the dentist? I know I don't, yet I should especially since my teeth aren't the greatest unlike my husband who never had cavities. I eat a lot of chocolate though and I could've done better taking care of my teeth when I was growing up. Then again, my husband drinks a lot of soda and has seen the dentist fewer times than I have within the past 5 years. Sigh, so unfair. I hope that Matthew takes after his dad in the dental department. However, everything I've read so far about dental health of children with Down syndrome indicate that kids with Down syndrome are predispositioned to develop problems with their teeth and gums (so what's NOT on that depressing long list of health issues associated with Down syndrome??)

more chompers at 16 monthsGood basic dental care is important to maintain a healthy mouth, Down syndrome or not. I brush his teeth twice a day with a non-fluoride kid toothpaste but I often wonder whether I'm brushing his teeth well enough. He likes to bite and suck on his toothbrush. I can never seem to get to all his teeth. Maybe I'm an anomaly, but my guess is many parents have a hard time with thoroughly brushing their children's teeth too, especially when they're less than 2 years old. Matthew is also on a fluoride supplement since the water in our town doesn't have fluoride in it. I imagine that should help cut down on cavities. But then again, according to the experts, periodontal disease is a greater concern than cavities in individuals with Down syndrome.

So when should we take Matthew to the dentist? Two articles I've read, "Dentistry in Children with Down Syndrome" by Dr. Elizabeth Mueller, DDS and "Caring for the Teeth and Gums of Children with Down Syndrome" by Dr. Jonathan Sierk, DDS, recommend the first dental visit between 12 to 18 months of age or within six months of the eruption of the child's first tooth. Matthew's first tooth, lower left central incisor (lower front tooth), came in when he was 7 months old. At 19 months, he has the upper cuspids half way out and has yet to get all his second molars. So it seems we are overdue for a visit, aren't we? Matthew's pediatrician recommends starting dental visits at age 2. I also called a pediatric dentist today said they said their rule of thumb is generally age 3, but they see kids younger than that too when necessary. I guess it's really up to us when to take him. The articles I read make the process sound so easy. Even if the first visit is just a consultation, no cleaning(?) or x-rays(?), how do these pediatric dentists expect kids so young to open up and cooperate despite sitting on mom or dad's lap in the dental chair?

At this point, I'm hoping other parents would chime in about their kids' dental visit experiences and suggestions for making it a fairly painless ordeal. Also, how different is dental treatment and care for children with Down syndrome? More regular x-rays? More frequent visits required - maybe every 3 or 4 months, not the usual 6 month interval? I'm sure a pediatric dentist can answer all my questions, but I'm interested in personal experiences. It doesn't hurt to ask, does it?

8 comments:

heather said...

Morgan is 6 1/2 years old and we started taking her to the dentist at 2 years old (just like all my other kids). She has been fine with the dentist. This last time we took her to a new dentist and their xrays were digital which meant they tried to stick a huge thing in her mouth to do the xrays and she didn't want a thing to do with that but she always opens up and lets them do their job. She has been fortunate and has not had any cavities. I think it is quite common to NOT have cavities with Down syndrome (thicker enamel?) but more common to have periodontal disease so brushing and flossing is very important for them. We brush her teeth with her laying on the floor and we sit above her head and have her open her mouth and brush her teeth. She goes to the dentist twice a year and everything has been great. Hope that helps!

heather said...

I just watched your video and I think you will have better success with having him lay down while you brush his teeth. He looks up at you and you try to get him to open his mouth so you can actually get to his teeth between the biting down on the toothbrush. You can also use one hand to try to hold open his mouth while you brush.

Monica said...

Okay first, OH MY GOSH he is too CUTE!!!!!!! We went to the dentist when Adam was 3. We called our pediatric dentist when he was 2 but, as long as we didn't have any concerns they wanted us to wait until he was 3. But, I remember I had read and heard stories from other parents how kids with ds can have a bigger fear with the dentist. So early on we played in his mouth a lot. With nuk brush and touching his teeth, counting them etc. Of course I can't be completely sure this is why he has no fear or anxiety at dentist, but I think it truly helped. Adam is 10 now and has never had any cavity's but he has had to have 3 teeth pulled (and he didn't need to be put to sleep for it) and we have just started seeing an orthodontist and looks like braces are in our near future. It looks like he is doing great with you brushing his teeth!!!!!

James said...

We haven't brought Nate to the dentist yet (almost 19 mo.), but will be soon.

I have nothing else to add as far as advice, but I do have to say whoever takes the photos on your blog does a GREAT job! Your son is so photogenic, and it's so great to see those smiles!!

Beverly said...

We started taking Noah to the dentist at age 2. He screamed a lot but we just held him and they did the cleaning. At 4 and 6 he went to have xrays, cleaning, sealants and at 6 teeth pulled in the hospital and put to sleep. The last year or two he does much better in the office and allows xrays and teeth cleanings very well with no screaming. He will be getting braces down the road and possible palate extender to help with sleep apnea issues.

Michelle said...

Hi Ria, Bill and Matthew! Matthew - you are totally adorable!!!!!!!!! So glad to "meet" you all and will keep up! :)

Jasmine said...

I love it. He's so cute. He's better at letting you do his teeth than my Gaby is. I wouldn't dare post a video because half of the time I'm prying her mouth open and everything is spilling everywhere. lol.

tuddos to you my friend.

Monica @ Monkey Musings said...

Darling video! Our experience is more like the previous poster, Jasmine. John Michael loves to chew on the brush, but hates it when we try to brush for him... until... last night when my husband tried the disposable-type electric toothbrush I just bought at Costco. He loved it and let my husband get to all his teeth. My biggest concern is with the teeth and plaque at the gumline. My guy is 18 mos old and we'll start around 2 -- that's when our other monkeys went. I think it's a good idea, especially since there will likely be crooked teeth or missing teeth and an xray will be helpful to know what we're in for. Thanks for sharing!