Dental Health & Down Syndrome: How Parents Can Help Their Children Have a Healthy Mouth

October 25, 2019 0 Comments

Dental health is important to one’s overall well being. Most of us do what we can each day to prevent oral issues by visiting our dentist and having a dental routine at home. However, for children with Down syndrome, they may be at a higher risk for dental issues.

While this can be challenging, there are ways to work to prevent oral problems. I have been practicing dentistry for more than 17 years, and have experience working with children who have Down syndrome. This article will discuss some common dental issues in children with Down syndrome may suffer from and how parents can be prepared to deal with and prevent them.

Dental Issues

There are a number of dental issues that parents who have children with Down syndrome should be aware of and prepared to deal with. Here are the most common:

Periodontal disease

This is a disease that affects the gums and can cause one’s oral health to deteriorate rather quickly. It’s most often caused by poor oral hygiene, bruxism, and underlying issues with the immune system. This can lead to loss of adult teeth if left untreated. Luckily, parents can work with their children on preventing this disease.


This condition is seen in a lot of individuals with Down syndrome as a result of delayed eruption of permanent teeth. This leads to an open bite, poor positioning of teeth, and an increased risk of periodontal disease and tooth decay. While this can’t be prevented, there are plenty of options to help combat the condition.

Other Tooth Anomalies

There are other dental abnormalities that your child may experience which can affect the form, function, or position of the mouth. As mentioned, delayed tooth eruption is one of them as well as missing teeth or irregular tooth formation. If your child is showing signs of any of these, visit your dentist to discuss the best way for your child to have a healthy mouth.

Dental issues can be confusing and challenging. Luckily, there are ways to prevent them and work through them and parents should use their child’s pediatric dentist as a source of information and support.

Going to the Dentist

To help work through some dental issues that children with Down syndrome may face, parents should take them to the dentist. Dental visits are the best way for your child to receive an examination of their dental health to uncover any issues. Plus, you and your child’s dentist can discuss any necessary care and treatment plans.

It’s also best to begin taking your child to the dentist at an early age to help them have the healthiest mouth possible. Not only is this a good idea for combatting oral issues, but it will also help your child be more comfortable at the dentist as they get older.

Dental Care at Home

Parents should also help their children develop an effective oral care routine at home. A good routine includes brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and regularly rinsing with an oral rinse. Certain behavioral issues or sensitivities may make implementing a routine more difficult, however, there are ways to work through this.

Start by making a child’s dental routine fun. You can do this by turning brushing and flossing time into a dance party and play music or set small incentives to help them get through their routine.

Diet can also play a big role in a child’s dental health. Try to limit the amount of sugar that your child eats as it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Find your child’s favorite fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains as these are rich in vitamins and nutrients that are essential to healthy teeth and gums.

Dental issues can happen to anybody, but children with Down syndrome are at a greater risks or some oral complications. Parents can help them by knowing some of the common issues, taking their child to the dentist, and practice proper oral care at home. Everyone deserves to have a healthy mouth, as it’s essential to one’s overall well-being. While oral problems can be challenging, never give up on finding ways to provide the best dental care for your child.

Down Syndrome and Dental Care
Questions to Ask Your Dentist Before an Appointment

– guest post by Dr. Greg Grillo: Facebook || Dentably 

What’s in a Name

October 2, 2019 0 Comments

Every adoptive parent dreams of how they will “meet” their new child…

Will they see him or her on an advocacy post and be flooded with warm fuzzies?

Will they get “the call” or open an email to an endearing face that will change their family forever?

I had been dreaming about this moment for over twenty-five years. Yep, that’s a bit of a wait! At age six, my parents bravely moved our family to Russia right after the Iron Curtain fell in the early ‘90s. We spread God’s love in a once cold and shackled land, especially visiting orphanages.

One of my clearest memories from our time there was playing in a room full of love-starved little children. When it was time to leave, a boy probably four years old clung to my mother’s leg and had to be pried off by the nannies. I begged through tears, “Please, let’s take him home! He can sleep in my bed!” My little mind didn’t understand the labyrinth of international adoption, just that this little boy needed a home and we seemed to have room in ours for one more child.

I carried this heavy burden of wanting to help vulnerable children in my young heart and never forgot his pleading tears.

Fast-forward many years later to when I was dating my now husband and I told him adoption was part of my “plan A” for growing a family. Thankfully, God had been working in my husband’s life too, as he was able to see firsthand the need for adoptive families when he visited Romanian orphanages on a youth mission’s trip years prior. Although I wasn’t a big fan of his last name, I agreed whole-heartedly to becoming his “Mrs. Mann” in 2008.

Through a turn of events that can only be accredited to God’s sense of humor, we ended up moving to China as teachers a few years later, despite my serious concerns about Chinese food. Orange Chicken and I weren’t good friends and I couldn’t imagine a whole country filled with nothing but Panda Express-ish cuisine. Thankfully, my stereotypical ideas of Chinese food were completely and utterly wrong! This American quickly learned that there is no such thing as “orange chicken” in China, only oily goodness that I’ve craved every day since.

I had high dreams of going into orphanages and rocking crying babies, however foreigners weren’t allowed into the orphanages in our city. However, we did have the privilege of walking beside friends who adopted from China and had another friend who ran a foster home, so we were able to learn firsthand the desperate need for adoptive families for precious Chinese children.

But we didn’t qualify yet to adopt from China and would still have to wait many more impatient years. During the waiting season, God taught us lessons of trust and faith in Him despite serious battles with the one-eyed monster, Mr. Fear. We, who lived in China, knew the language, and celebrated the culture, but were almost paralyzingly scared to dip our toes in this mysterious world of adoption. Thankfully, our loving heavenly Father built a solid worldwide community around us and led us to a church with numerous adoptive and foster families once we moved back to the States. Plus, He gave us a blonde-headed, blue-eyed little girl, growing our family in His perfect timing and perfect way.

Somehow, I found No Hands But Ours and gobbled every post, researching and preparing for the day we could say “yes” to every one of China’s qualifications. It gave us such strength and encouragement that we weren’t the only crazy ones wanting to bring a child home from a culture much different than our own.

Finally, on November 28, 2017, with pounding heart, we sent in the initial packet to our agency and eagerly began combing the advocacy websites for our precious little boy. (At that time, you could be matched at any time to a Special Focus child.) We sweated over and Googled every special need on the MCC (medical checklist) and wondered how in the world could we provide for a child with possibly significant medical needs on our teacher’s salaries.

I begged my husband daily if we could request the file of each precious little soul that paraded across my computer screen. I thought he’d never, ever say “yes!” But then, one day about two months into the process, I saw a profile that caught my eye.

It wasn’t his piercing eyes or seriously adorable look that captured my attention. It was his name.


Yes, the very same name as our last name, minus one letter. His file said the nannies called him “Man Man” and he was ten months younger than our daughter. Ironically, his special needs listed were delayed development and anemia. Through our friend’s experience with children coming from institutionalized living into her foster home, we were already prepared for a child with global delays in speech, motor skills, and cognitive abilities. And funny enough, I had anemia as a teen and already knew quite a bit about it. (So much for those hours of becoming Dr. Google!)

Even though his name seemed like a pretty obvious flashing sign from God that he was ours, we spent a week praying, struggling, and asking medical professionals to review his file. We got opinions that his needs could be anything from minor to serious, making us realize that we just needed to trust God and say a resolute “yes” to this precious child who already shared our name.

A few days before leaving to bring him home, we joined a chat group with the other families in who were in our travel group. We noticed that one family was coming from the same city as our son’s orphanage, which just so happened to be only two-hour fast train from where we previously lived in China. To make a long story short, this adoptive mom used to be a social worker at our son’s orphanage and gave us so many details about our son’s wonderful first home. And the icing on the cake? She not only lived in our same state and city, but just a few minutes down the road from us! Today we go to the same church and our sons play side-by-side while we have community group together in our home. Astonishing!

Our new friend also told us that his orphanage was formerly part of the ICC (International China Concern) partnership program, making this the sprinkles on the icing of an amazingly orchestrated-by-God cake! The man who founded ICC previously attended our church in Hong Kong and we had heard, seen, prayed for, and given to support their work with orphans in China for years.

Only God, in His almighty sovereignty could plan that our son with our last name would be cared for in a place that we were already praying for and that we would be placed in a same travel group as someone who previously worked in his orphanage and now lives a few minutes away!

Sometimes you have to take a giant leap of faith in the adoption world and say a daring “yes” to a child with so many unknowns. But it’s been a beautiful thing to stand back and be awestruck at how God was weaving the beautiful tapestry of our son’s life all the while, making him a perfect fit for our family. God’s impeccable plan was beyond what we could have ever imagined and on November 28, 2018, we made him officially a “Mann,“ one year to the day we started the adoption process.

Two days after our son, whom we renamed “Titus” (because “Man Man Mann” would be just slightly confusing!), was placed in our arms, we had the privilege of visiting his first home and family. We are so thankful that he spent his beginning two years of life in a colorful and caring place, however our hearts left burdened for all those precious souls we left behind. It felt like a flashback to twenty-five years ago, when the seed of adoption was planted deep in my heart.

We brought our three-year old daughter with us to China and as we were leaving, she asked, “Where are mommies and daddies for these boys and girls? They need mommies and daddies too, just like my brother.” We are so grateful God is at work in her young heart and she already has big plans of filling our house with as many brothers and sisters from China that she can!

Titus has transitioned splendidly into our family and most of his developmental delays have been addressed with a nurturing family atmosphere. Now, he’s able to jump, climb (furniture is his specialty!), swim, run, and do just about everything his big sister does. He approaches life with caution, sitting back and observing before diving into something new. For example, it took him about three months to step into the pool on his own, however once he realized it is a safe and fun place, he’s been our little water bug ever since!

His language abilities are still a bit delayed, however he is adding to his vocabulary every day, with his most favorite sentence being, “I want more bacon!” We are so grateful for our daughter who has become his personal translator and can understand about 95% of what he says. Most of the time though they seem to communicate in their own little language and their adorable tight-knit bond is nothing short of miraculous. Their favorite activity to play together is loading their backpacks with toys and pretending to fly to China…to bring back another brother or sister of course!

And after a few months of home-cooked meals and green smoothies, his anemia has been resolved! He’s gained five whole pounds and grown two inches in the last ten months, mostly due to his love of bacon!

Of course we couldn’t shake our daughter’s pleas or the faces of the beloved children we left behind, so we started our adoption journey again this summer as soon as we were able. We know some families are surprised with a child whose needs are much greater or different that what was in the file, however we are thankful our son’s special needs have been easily manageable, allowing us to pursue another son or daughter as quickly as possible.

They say hindsight is 20/20 and that is definitely true in adoption. We wish we could take back those wasted hours and squandered energy worrying about how we would be matched to our son. We spent many hours lying awake at night doubting if this new child would truly fit into our family, bond with us and our daughter.

If only we could have seen a snapshot of our home today, with our son and daughter spending every waking moment playing, laughing, and learning together.

We wondered how we could afford the adoption expenses and life with a child possibly having major medical needs, only to see now how God has provided everything that we need. And we worried how we would preserve our son’s Chinese culture and identify with his given name. Never in a million years would we have guessed he would get to keep his name, just adding an extra letter to it. He now interchangeably calls himself “Titus” and “Man Man,” while we marvel at how our little man is flourishing in our family!

So what is in a name?

Every child is just one courageous family’s “yes” away from being called son.







– guest post by Brittany: email || Facebook || Instagram 

We Are Their World

September 30, 2019 0 Comments

We are their world and they are ours…..

A few months back I wrote about the first time I rocked my son to sleep. He was four and had never let me rock him in the two years we had been home with him. It was a little thing for most moms, but a huge moment for us.

Attachment is an ongoing and changing part of life in the adoption world. Somedays it’s amazing and other days it can be heartbreaking reminder of early childhood trauma that we, as parents, just cannot fix.

It is important during times of change to be mindful of attachment and how it fits into each part of our day.

We recently moved into our new home. A much bigger house to suit a busy boy and his new dog. During the move I was having a typical conversation with my son (honestly, I don’t remember about what) and a friend of ours looked at me and said, “You are his world.”

A seemingly simple comment, but a really that comment is anything but simple.

In the day to day of life with a sensory seeking toddler I have few moments to slow down. But during this move, it was more than crucial we didn’t let stress overwhelm us. My husband and I are used to moving as we are a military family, but our son, was not.

In just two years time he experienced…

the loss of a first family; leaving the orphanage which was the only home he’d known; leaving a culture; moving to a new country; entering into a new family; and having to learn a new culture. That’s an incredible amount of change for such a young person.

His special needs are incredibly minor, but nonetheless we have therapy and social groups to attend weekly. Add in a move and all the stress that comes with it and we could have had a disaster.

But, we didn’t. In fact, quite the opposite. He went house hunting with us so he was a part of the process every step of the way. He is verbal now, so he was able to communicate all his questions and excitement. He was so happy to show everyone his very own room. Side note, he had a room in the old house, but we co-slept so he didn’t really make a connection to that room.

This move brought about such growth in this little guy. His communication exploded because he was so excited and curious. He decided he wanted to sleep on his own like a big boy. In being a big boy now he also decided to take potty training very seriously so he could wear his big boy underwear. He started riding his big bike with training wheels. He was moving more and more toward typical four-year-old milestones.

With all this new independence I was starting to notice he was needing me less and less. But, let me tell you, I was wrong.

He still needed me, just in a different way.

You see, the day to day is where we tend to miss the little moments. The moments, as my friend pointed out, where we are their world. We are their world because our worlds revolve around one another in the most amazing way.

The day to day moments are the ones worth stopping for: when he sits on the couch and silently snuggles up and holds my hand; when he asks me to feed him; when he wants me to read him a book; when he holds my face and says I love you mommy; when he asks why a million times a day.

These moments are the world to him and to me. These moments are the moments where he needs me as much as I need him.

As hectic as special needs and adoption parenting is, these little reminders each day of how we fit into each other’s worlds give me pause. The parent-child relationship ebbs and flows over the years. As much as I want him to stay little, I am excited to see what the future will hold for this little guy. I just hope this mama’s heart can handle the growing independence.

– guest post by Dana

With Open Doors and Open Arms

September 2, 2019 6 Comments

Our son Falcon’s adoption story began three years before he was born. We were in China adopting our first child, a baby girl, through the NSN program. Touring her orphanage, I remember cresting the top of the four flights of stairs, excited to hear the sound of little voices. We asked our guide if we …Read More

For Kids, By Kids

August 28, 2019 0 Comments

“Mom, can we please do a lemonade stand today?” begged the kids. They had been wanting to do one for a long time, so I reluctantly agreed to do a stand that hot day in May 2015. We got a poster board, some lemonade, a table, and headed down to a park in our neighborhood. …Read More

Letting God Write Our Story

August 23, 2019 5 Comments

Life is full of things we thought we could never handle… until we have to. As we considered growing our family via adoption, one thing we thought we “couldn’t handle” was a child with limited mobility. We already had three very active children. We love to hike, bike, go to the beach or spend a …Read More

Treasuring the Gift of Communication

August 19, 2019 0 Comments

My husband and I love talking about adoption. Among our greatest joys is sharing our journey with others and communicating that God uses the most ordinary of people (like us!) to participate in something extraordinary. I always feel a deep need to impress upon those who are considering the call to adopt that every family’s …Read More

Ethan: Adopting a Son with Cleft Lip and Palate

August 14, 2019 2 Comments

Early in our marriage, my husband showed interest in the idea of adopting. “Wouldn’t it be great to be able to give a family to a child who doesn’t have one?” he said one day. I remember thinking, “I don’t know if adoption is for me. I don’t know if I could do that.” Throughout …Read More

The Power of Touch

August 7, 2019 0 Comments

Touch is a powerful thing. It can hurt tragically, and it can heal supernaturally. It makes neurons fire in our brain like the fourth of July. Touch is a remarkable God-given tool to build relationship and connection from the neighborly casual to the most intimate. And, it’s something our children who have had hard starts often have …Read More

The Sky is the Limit

July 26, 2019 0 Comments

Ever since I was a young girl, I knew that I wanted to someday get married and to be a mom. I dreamed of having children born from my womb and children born from my heart. After college, I met the man of my dreams and we married in March 2006. A year and half …Read More

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