Preventive procedures can halt progression of periodontal disease and tooth loss in patients with Down syndrome


This long term study looked at the effectiveness of a preventive programme on dental health in people with Down syndrome, who are known to have increased prevalence of periodontal disease (affecting the neck and root of a tooth)

The researchers looked at the long-term effect of periodic plaque control on the progression of periodontal diseases and tooth mortality in 25 patients with Down syndrome in Germany. They used standard measure to assess dental caries and periodontal disease. They carried out routine dental and preventive care over at least ten years.

Results were reported for two patient groups based on age at first attendance – group (10 patients aged ≤ 15 years; group 2 (15 patients aged ≥ 16 years).

They found that nearly 60% of patients had slight bone loss in relation to age and that 25% exhibited advanced bone loss. During the 10 year period, an average of 2.5 teeth were lost in all patients, 0.5 in Group I and 3.8 in Group II.

The authors conclude that from their overall findings, well-performed preventive procedures are able to prevent progression of periodontal disease in patients with Down syndrome and reduce tooth loss.

The long-term effect of a preventive programme on caries, periodontal disease and tooth mortality in individuals with Down syndrome, Habil P in  Journal of Disability and Oral Health 12, 2, 68, 80

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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