objective: from a perspective of comprehensive care, the purpose of the study was to evaluate factors associated to dental care provided to down syndrome children and adolescents. methods: a cross-sectional study was carried out including 112 pairs of mothers/down syndrome children aged between 3 and 18 years who attended a public hospital genetics clinic in rio de janeiro, southeastern brazil, in 2006. dental care was not provided at the clinic. data were collected through a questionnaire administered to the mothers and oral examinations of their children. multiple logistic regression was used for data analysis. the dependent variable was "dental care of the down syndrome child or adolescent" and the independent variables included demographic, socioeconomic and behavioral characteristics. results: most children (79.5%) had had at least one dental visit (90% ci: 72.3; 87.8). dental experience of the children was associated to the following variables: mothers who reported being advised by their children's health provider to take them to the dentist's (or=6.1 [2.5; 15.1]); children with prior history of surgery (or=2.5 [0.9; 7.1]); and age between 12 and 18 years (or=13.1 [2.0; 86.9]). conclusions: dental care provided to down syndrome children and adolescents was associated to advice given by their health providers, a part of comprehensive care.