Dental health can affect well-being and quality of life. Certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can cause dental and oral problems.
Having a healthy mouth enables you to chew, taste, swallow and speak properly. Strong, healthy teeth help you enjoy your food.
Certain symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and side-effects of medications can cause dental and oral problems.
Having a dry mouth can cause discomfort and difficulty swallowing and speaking, but it can also lead to more serious problems such as cavities and gum disease. Dry mouth is a common side-effect of the anticholinergic medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease and other health problems you may have.
Your doctor may change or adjust your medication to alleviate your dry mouth. You can also:
Sometimes, the opposite problem occurs. Your mouth may have a little excess saliva due to decreased swallowing movements. You aren’t actually producing more saliva, you’re just not swallowing as well. Your doctor or a speech therapist can help you improve your swallowing.
In the meantime, try these exercises in front of a mirror. They will show you how hard you need to close your mouth to prevent saliva from leaking out.
Parkinson’s disease also affects the muscles in your jaw and face, which may contribute to your difficulty swallowing and chewing.
Most dentists will be able to treat you regardless of how advanced your Parkinson’s disease is. However, it is vital that you tell your dentist you have Parkinson’s disease and the associated symptoms.
Your dentist will suggest a routine adapted to the condition of your mouth in order to prevent, identify and treat the problems most often associated with Parkinson’s disease. They will also be able to give you brushing techniques that are best suited for the condition of your mouth.
Tremors, loss of dexterity, muscle rigidity, dyskinesia and/or freezing can make brushing your teeth difficult. An occupational therapist can give you strategies to help you maintain your oral hygiene and suggest special equipment (e.g. a toothbrush with a wider handle).
The following strategies may help:
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