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Downs syndrome and periodontal disease

  • A blog looking at down’s syndrome and periodontal disease.

    By Naomi Todd

What is Down’s syndrome?

Down’s syndrome (DS) is a common genetic birth defect, affecting approximately one in 700 live births. It is caused by the presence of an extra chromosome in a baby’s cells. In the majority of cases, DS is not an inherited condition. It usually occurs because of a chance happening at the time of conception.

Downs has probably always existed but the syndrome is named after Dr John Langdon Down, who published a description of the syndrome in 1866. Recent decades have seen a dramatic improvement in life expectancy since the 1980s.

DS patients are prone to periodontal disease (often called gum disease) and it is often severe and generalised. This may be due to the level of care needed and that the teeth whilst not overlooked completely, are probably not given the attention they deserve. But as we at in Dental Negligence Team have noted in other blogs, good oral health is vital to our overall health.

The review

Preventive methods and conventional periodontal treatments are thought to present disappointing outcomes in this group of patients, requiring specific approaches. The aim of a recent review was to evaluate which type of approach preventive programs and different periodontal therapies improve periodontal outcomes for DS patients.

The review was not a study in itself. It was a review of the existing data available.

Studies were reviewed involving a total of 279 patients. There were four clinical trials, four longitudinal studies, and a prospective case series.


The review authors concluded: –

“This systematic review demonstrated the importance to early introduce DS patients into preventive programs and periodontal therapy. Thus, the participation of parents, caregivers or institutional attendants in supervising/performing oral hygiene is essential for prevention and control of the periodontal disease. In addition, frequency of attendance and association with chemical adjuvants (independently of the periodontal treatment adopted) seems to improve periodontal outcomes in preventive and periodontal treatment of DS patients. More clinical trials about preventive and periodontal treatment in DS patients are needed, including antimicrobial agents and other adjuvant treatments.”


Whilst this is only a review of the current data, it has highlighted the need for early intervention for those with DS. It also hightailed that more clinical studies are needed in order to hone exactly what treatment and approach is needed to prevent those with DS developing periodontal disease.

We at the Dental Negligence Team have experience in dealing with periodontal cases. If you are someone with DS, or a carer to someone whom you think may not be receiving appropriate dental care, please get in touch with us. Remedial and restorative treatment following a late diagnosis of periodontal disease is very expensive and we would hope to be able to recover the cost of whatever treatment is necessary. Please have a look at our case studies for an idea of what to expect.

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