Two Dental Health Implications For Children With Cerebral Palsy

Posted on: 25 January 2016


Common symptoms of cerebral palsy, such as muscle weakness, can impact your child's dental health by making it difficult for them to clean their teeth thoroughly. Here's an overview of two oral health issues your child with cerebral palsy may face and how your dentist can help:

Gum Disease

It's common for children with cerebral palsy to have trouble chewing and swallowing. This can cause food residue to be left in their mouth and leave them susceptible to gum disease. The longer food particles remain in your child's mouth, the longer naturally present bacteria have to feast on it and multiply. This creates the perfect environment for plaque to form along your child's gum line, which can cause local irritation and inflammation of the soft gum tissue. Inflammation can cause your child's gums to recede, and this leaves small pockets that bacteria can enter and attack the surrounding teeth.

Your family dentist can formulate a treatment plan that will minimise the risk of your child developing gum disease by reducing the number of bacteria in their mouth. Your dentist may provide fluoride gel to coat your child's teeth and prevent plaque from being able to stick to their gum line. Additionally, a xylitol treatment plan can prevent bacteria levels from becoming unmanageable. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that's derived from a plant and is used in dentistry to stop bacteria in the mouth from multiplying. It comes in a variety of forms, such as toothpaste and drops, and your dentist will explain how much your child should use each day.

Tooth Decay

Children with cerebral palsy can find brushing their teeth well to be a challenge due to drooling and weakness in the muscles of their hands and jaw. When bacteria feed on food debris that has been left behind when brushing, they produce an acidic by-product that damages tooth enamel and erodes your child's teeth over time. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, begin to break down in your mouth, so encouraging your child to replace these with whole grains can reduce the amount of food available to bacteria, as whole grains don't break down until they come into contact with stomach acid.

Your dentist can work with your child to find brushing aids that allow them to brush their teeth more thoroughly, thus removing more food debris. For example, a weighted toothbrush with a larger handle can allow your child to grip the brush more effectively and improve control. Scheduling a regular scale and polish to remove tartar can also help prevent tooth decay, so ask your dentist how often they would suggest your child has this treatment.

Regular dental check-ups can prevent these dental problems getting out of hand and minimise the impact of cerebral palsy on your child's oral health, so book your child in for a thorough exam at your general dentistry clinic as soon as possible.