A follower recently asked us to address dental care for patients with a movement disorder. We did some research and consulted with Fred Woodlief, DDS, a retired dentist and person with Parkinson’s.
Some medications used to treat movement disorders can cause dry mouth as a side effect. This can also be caused by the disorder causing a person to swallow repeatedly. The lack of saliva due to dry mouth can then lead to other problems like:
- Sore or dry throat
- Tooth decay and gum disease
- Poor denture fit
- Loss of taste
Motor symptoms including tremors experienced by those with a movement disorder can also impact dental hygiene, and make taking care of teeth and gums a challenge.
Top 10 tips for dental hygiene:
- Use an electric toothbrush – Dr. Woodlief recommends a sonic toothbrush
- Drink more water – sip water throughout the day or let ice melt in your mouth
- Avoid caffeine – it dehydrates your body
- Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol and look for chlorhexidine or baking soda on the ingredient list
- Consider using a products specifically designed for dry mouth, including mouthwashes, gums, and sprays
- Stimulate saliva flow by sucking on sugarless lemon drops or mints or chewing sugarless gum – avoid candies and gums with sugar as these cause cavities. Note that the sugar alcohols in sugarless products can increase the risk of GI irritation and diarrhea
- Consult with your dentist about your individual needs and what may work best for you
- Floss regularly – dental flossing aids with pre-loaded floss that can be reused are readily available
- Perform mouth opening exercises regularly to prevent muscular constriction
- Visit the dentist for more frequent professional cleaning (3-4 times a year) to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Take care of dental care needs sooner rather than later to head off extensive procedures
Dr. Woodlief also recommends the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation 2014 webinar on swallowing and dental challenges as a great resource.
European Parkinson’s Disease Association