If you care for an adult with Down syndrome or if you have a child with the disorder, then you should know that people with Down syndrome often form gum disease conditions. This occurs due to a poor or impaired immune system. A dentist can help to keep gingivitis at bay with regular six month cleanings, but you also need to do your part to make sure that periodontal disease does not become a concern. Some good examples are listed below.
Boost the Immune System
People with Down syndrome have poor immune systems, because antibodies are not created properly. This means bacteria can cause infections fairly quickly. This is true even of the generally harmless microorganisms that live in the mouth. You can help to keep these bacteria from infecting the gum tissues by helping your family member boost their immune system naturally. One good way to do this is to provide foods with antioxidants. Antioxidants help the body fight off free radicals and they also assist with the repair of damaged cells and tissues. This can help the body repair gum tissues that are damaged so they are less susceptible to bacterial infections.
Provide Antioxidant Rich Foods
Foods that are high in antioxidants include tomatoes, oranges, apples, garlic, spinach, bell peppers, onions, berries, corn, and nuts. Make sure to provide at least one food that contains antioxidants during each meal. Also, consider making your child or family member a smoothie every day that contains a variety of antioxidant rich foods.
Reduce Mouth Bacteria
A good way to help reduce gingivitis concerns is to make sure that your family member does not introduce bacteria to the mouth. There are generally between about 200 and 500 different types of bacteria that live in the mouth. Some of these bacteria help to keep fungi in check so that oral thrush conditions do not arise. Other bacteria help to keep harmful microorganisms from thriving in the mouth. Some bacteria can cause infections and diseases though, and it is wise to make sure that these bacteria do not enter the mouth on a regular basis.
Teach Good Hand Washing Practices
Many of the harmful bacteria that enter the mouth and cause gingivitis and infection concerns come from the outside environment. You can keep these bacteria out of the mouth by asking your child or family member to wash their hands properly before they eat and after they go to the bathroom. It is also wise for your family member to wash their hands after they touch doorknobs or come into the home from outdoors. When hands are washed properly, then bacteria cannot be transferred to food. Also, some individuals with Down syndrome may suck or bite on their fingers and this can allow bacteria to enter the mouth.
To teach good hand washing practices, ask your family member to turn on the warm water so the hands can be rinsed first. Soap should then be used on the hands and it should be worked around the skin for about 20 seconds. Ask your child or loved one to sing the alphabet song while they lather so they spend enough time scrubbing their hands. Soap should be thoroughly rinsed off afterwards and the hands should be dried completely with a towel.
Keep Toothbrushes Clean
Another good way to keep harmful bacteria out of the mouth is to make sure that your family member's toothbrush is kept clean at all times. Bacteria like to live in moist and warm environments, and toothbrushes often stay wet for an extended period of time. A good way to prevent bacterial growth is to dry toothbrushes after every use.
Also, you should make sure that toothbrushes are not stored or hung near toilets. When you flush your toilet, water from the bowl creates an aerosol spray that travels through the air. This spray can contain urine and fecal matter that can then transfer to toothbrushes. These materials attract and contain bacteria that can easily cause infections and illnesses. Make sure that your loved one's toothbrush is stored in a plastic container, in a medicine cabinet, or in a closed drawer to prevent aerosol sprays from reaching brushes. You can also teach your family member to close the toilet lid before flushing to help reduce the amount of water and fecal matter that is released into the air.
If you have a loved one with Down syndrome, then you need to make sure your family member does not form gingivitis. Gingivitis is common amongst people with the condition, so follow the tips above to make sure that serious gum conditions do not occur.