Down Syndrome is a condition that impacts many people. In positive news, a new multi-million-dollar grant has been awarded which will permit further research into Down syndrome. The hope is that the research will help scientists learn more about the condition, and see if they can help the oral health of those with the syndrome.

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In positive news, new research that will focus on the oral health of Down Syndrome patients has been permitted following a multi-million-dollar grant [1].

The research will aim to study the salivary gland and tooth enamel formation in those with Down Syndrome. Past research has produced some interesting findings, although further explorations are needed.

This research will help provide scientists with a further understanding of the connection between oral health and Down syndrome.

What is Down Syndrome?

Down syndrome is a genetic condition that involves a person being born with an extra chromosome [2]. It is a condition that is caused by an abnormal cell division.

People with Down syndrome will often have a learning disability and developmental delays. Moreover, it is a condition that results in complications with other health conditions [2].

The research grant

Rodrigo Lacruz is a professor in molecular pathobiology at New York University [1]. He has presided over several studies into Down syndrome and oral health.

Now, Lacruz has secured a five-year grant which will provide $1.5million in funding for his research [1]. The grant has been provided by the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research and the INCLUDE project from the National Institutes of Health [1].

What will the research involve?

While the exact methods that Lacruz will be carrying out hasn’t been revealed, the topic will be looking at the salivary gland and tooth enamel formation.

Moreover, this is highly relevant to those with Down syndrome, as they typically have poor saliva production and enamel defects [1]. These defects result in thinner enamel, resulting in the faster decaying of teeth.

Saliva is a crucial element of our oral health. Saliva helps to prevent bacterial growth – which is what causes cavities. Moreover, tooth enamel also acts as a barrier against bacteria.

Therefore, having poor saliva production can result in those with Down syndrome being more vulnerable to cavities [1]. Likewise, the enamel defects can also hasten the development of cavities. Having these two areas is very damaging to oral health.

A key area that Lacruz will hope to look into involves the molecular mechanisms that are responsible for the poor saliva production and enamel defects [1]. Unfortunately, this has not yet been identified through past research.

Lacruz will be looking into the role of a gene called RCAN1 and a protein called calcineurin – both of which are believed to be linked to the aforementioned mechanisms [1].

Mouse models will be used to see if RCAN1 disrupts enamel crystal formation in Down syndrome [1]. Lacruz has suggested this may happen through RCAN1 altering certain functions in the body which have an effect on the salivary glands – helping to cause the problems.

Lacruz’s comments

Lacruz is excited ahead of his research. He said that the research “will advance our understanding of the mechanisms through which changes in normal mitochondrial function, such those associated with Down syndrome, impact oral health” [1].

Moreover, Lacruz said that this approach will enable “the mechanisms contributing to poor saliva production” in those with Down syndrome to become clearer [1].

Therefore, by researching this subject area, Lacruz may produce findings that will be able to aid the oral health of those with Down syndrome. This would be beneficial to many people.

Furthermore, this wouldn’t just be those with the condition, but also their family and healthcare providers. After all, many people are affected by this debilitating syndrome.

Thinking points…

[1] Many people are predisposed to having poor oral health. But for most people, oral health problems are avoidable. Having a healthy diet, brushing your teeth frequently and flossing are all crucial. However, another area that is very important is a dental check-up. A dental check-up will allow a dentist to take a thorough look at your oral health and make suggestions if needed. We recommend that you book an appointment now!

[2] Those with genetic disorders like Down Syndrome often have difficulty with their oral health. If someone you know has a genetic disorder, you could share this article with them. Many people are unaware of the link between genetic disorders and poor oral health. Therefore, providing information like this could be really helpful to them. Consider sharing now!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a wide range of dental treatment options and advice aimed at improving their oral health.

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To strengthen your oral health, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Many people find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

Moreover, all of our services at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing.

We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website


[1] New York University. (2023). Dr. Rodrigo Lacruz Receives Additional Funding to Study Biology of Oral Health in Down Syndrome. Available: Last accessed: 11th August 2023.

[2] Down syndrome. (2018). Available: Last accessed: 12th August 2023.