Dental issues in people with PWS often start at a young age and can last throughout adulthood. Thick saliva, picking at gums or the tongue, poor overall dental hygiene and rumination are all contributing factors. Low muscle tone and challenges with fine motor control make proper teeth brushing especially difficult. Here are some ways to start and/ or improve good dental health:
- Using an electric toothbrush combined with mouthwash can help children and adults brush their teeth properly with minimal physical exertion. Using their favorite song to time how long they should brush for can also be helpful. Use stickers or small tokens to reinforce a job well done. This is a life long issue so teaching and rewarding good habits are very important.
- Sensory issues may make teeth brushing uncomfortable and the use of vibrating oral products such as "chewlery" rings can help with the transition just before morning and bedtime routines.
- Address canker sores immediately to avoid the temptation to pick. Topical analgesics can be used to decrease the pain associated with canker sores or any other discomfort in the mouth if your doctor or dentist agrees with the use.
- If rumination is an issue for your child and no interventions have been effective, increase the amount of teeth brushing or use of mouthwash to several times per day or just after rumination occurs if possible. Please check with your dentist as too much brushing can damage enamel as well.
We want our children to be as independent as possible and often accept less than perfection for this reason. Dental hygiene is not the time to settle for less, because weak and unhealthy teeth can have adverse effects on overall health and quality of life.
Manager of PWS Services
Musings of a Child Care Supervisor