Cerebral palsy can impact your child's dental health due to typical symptoms of the condition, such as muscle weakness, making oral hygiene more challenging. Your child is also prone to overcrowding of their teeth due to cerebral palsy, but regular appointments with your family dentist can help prevent common dental conditions from getting out of hand. Here's an overview of three ways cerebral palsy can affect your child's dental health:
Kids with cerebral palsy can take longer to chew food than their peers. This prolongs the time that simple sugars are available as a food source to bacteria in your child's mouth and can cause bacteria to multiply and thrive. These bacteria can then bind with food particles to create sticky plaque that coats your child's teeth and gum line. Plaque can cause your child's soft gum tissue to swell as their immune system launches an attack against the bacteria. This swelling can lead to receding gums and leave your child susceptible to developing infections.
A dentist can minimise the impact of plaque and bacteria on your child's teeth and gums by recommending protective products such as fluoride gel or xylitol. Fluoride gel creates a strong protective barrier that can prevent plaque from sticking to your child's teeth and gum line. Xylitol, which is a natural sweetener recommended by dentists for its ability to reduce bacteria levels, can be consumed after meals. It's also available in certain toothpastes, and your dentist can advise you on how much your child should use each day.
Muscle weakness and drooling can make thorough teeth cleaning difficult, so large amounts of food debris can be left in your child's mouth. When bacteria feed on food particles, they produce a corrosive acid as a waste product, and this acid can erode tooth enamel, which can lead to toothache and discolouration of your child's teeth.
Refined carbohydrates provide an instant source of food to bacteria as they begin to break down when they come into contact with saliva, so by encouraging your child to eat whole grains in place of refined carbohydrates, you can reduce the bacteria's food source. Your dentist can help reduce your child's risk of developing tooth decay by suggesting aids, such as toothbrushes with weighted handles, that can help your child brush their teeth more thoroughly. A regular scale and polish can also prevent the build-up of tartar, so ask your dentist how often they would recommend this treatment for your child.
If your child's teeth overlap or are too close together, they may drool more and can chip or crack their teeth when eating. Overcrowding can also make it harder for your child to chew their food thoroughly and can lead to jaw pain. The two main approaches to dealing with overcrowding are extracting some of your child's teeth or realigning their teeth with fixed braces. Your dentist will assess your child's teeth and advise you on the most suitable option.
If your child's overdue a dental check-up, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. Your dentist will be happy to discuss any concerns you have and can spot and treat problems early before long-term damage occurs.
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