While MS patients are at greater risk of dental disease, there are some tools and techniques that can help you maintain a healthy mouth.
Because MS is a neurological condition, many people are unaware of the impact it can have on one’s oral health. According to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the symptoms of MS can interfere with proper dental and gum care, as can some medications used to treat MS symptoms (NMSS).
Payam Kashani, DDS, of Gentle Family Dental in Queens, New York, says multiple sclerosis can affect motor function and coordination. It’s possible for people to lose their ability to control their muscles.
“To brush and floss properly, you need good manual dexterity.” Many MS sufferers can’t do as much as they used to, says Dr. Kashani.
People with MS, on the other hand, can still maintain good oral hygiene with a little forethought and modification to their daily routine.
Dental hygiene can be difficult for someone with MS.
According to the NMSS, people with MS may have difficulty performing adequate oral self-care due to a variety of factors, including:
If you’re preoccupied with MS-related health issues, it’s possible that you’ll neglect your oral hygiene.
According to the NMSS, common symptoms of MS include fatigue and decreased mobility. Regular dental visits may be too much for people with mobility issues or fatigue.
MS can make it difficult to properly care for your teeth and gums, due to some of its symptoms. As a result, brushing and flossing can be affected by symptoms such as exhaustion and spasticity as well as tremors and facial pain (trigeminal neuralgia). Study subjects with multiple sclerosis (MS) were found to have a wide range of facial and mouth-related symptoms in the Journal of Oral Maxillofacial Surgery (including numbness or pain).
Some MS medications can cause dry mouth (xerostomia), which can lead to the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth. Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) in Poland are more likely to experience dry mouth and gum bleeding, according to a study published in the Polish Journal of Neurology and Neurosurgery (PJNNS) in 2019. (28.1 percent). People with more severe and long-lasting forms of multiple sclerosis (MS) were more likely to experience dry mouth and gum bleeding.
Good oral hygiene is essential for overall health, but why?
People with multiple sclerosis (MS) are more likely to suffer from dental caries (tooth decay) and periodontal (gum) disease, according to researchers in Spain. There are numerous ways in which these issues can have an effect on one’s overall health.
Kashani stresses the importance of good oral hygiene. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to heart disease, diabetes, and other diseases whose inflammatory processes are modulated in studies.
To make matters worse, according to the NMSS, poor oral health makes it more difficult to eat and digest nutritious foods.
According to the NMSS, poor oral hygiene can lead to infection and exacerbate MS symptoms. In addition, your smile and appearance, both of which contribute to your sense of self-worth, are affected by good oral hygiene.
The Mouth’s Response to MS Drugs
There are some MS medications that can have negative effects on oral health when used to treat symptoms. Dry mouth is one of the most common side effects.
Dental decay can be extremely difficult to treat, according to Kashani. To avoid losing the patient’s tooth, it is important to catch the disease in its early stages.
Additionally, bad breath can be caused by a lack of saliva in the mouth.
Gum disease can be worsened by taking steroids, which are commonly used to treat MS relapses. It is important that the body be able to properly deal with gum disease, according to Kashani. “Gum disease advances more rapidly in immunosuppressed patients. They have a tendency to lose their teeth faster.”
According to a 2017 review published in the Australian Dental Journal, almost all of the drugs used to manage MS symptoms caused dry mouth, including anticholinergic drugs, the progression and symptoms of multiple sclerosis (used to treat bladder symptoms in MS).
Patients who received immunosuppressive and immunomodulating therapies were found to be more susceptible to gingivitis (gum disease), candida infections, HPV infection, and leukoplakia (white patches or spots in the mouth).
Toothache, sinusitis, and mucositis are some of the most common side effects of immunomodifiers used to treat MS progression (inflammation of the digestive tract).
What You Need to Know About Good Dental Hygiene
When you practise good dental self-care habits, you reduce your risk of developing dental problems. With a good oral hygiene routine, you should:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, preferably right after breakfast and right before bed.
- Fluoride-containing toothpaste is recommended.
- Floss your teeth at least once a day.
- Brush your tongue or use a tongue scraper every day.
- Maintain a healthy weight by following a diet that is low in sugar.
- Make sure to go to the dentist on a regular basis, at least once every six months.
- It is recommended that you change your toothbrush every three to four months.
- If you experience bleeding gums, tooth or jaw pain, or tooth sensitivity, schedule an appointment with your dentist right away.
Your Dental Routine When Diagnosed with MS
According to the NSMSS, if your MS symptoms or medications are making it difficult for you to maintain good oral hygiene, the following suggestions may be helpful:
Brush your teeth with a toothbrush that has a built-in handle. Another method is to slide a tennis ball onto the handle of the toothbrush by cutting a small slit in the side of the tennis ball.
To make flossing easier, utilise flossing tools.
Dr. Kashani recommends electric toothbrushes and flossing devices, but cautions against circular brush heads. Dentists’ techniques are required, according to Mr. Knapp. In his opinion, Philips Sonicare toothbrushes are the best.
If you find it difficult to stand while brushing and flossing, take a seat.
Even if you’re too exhausted to floss at night, you can do so in the morning or even while lying in bed if you prefer.
Brushing and flossing can be made easier with the assistance of a loved one or personal assistant.
Brushing tremors can be alleviated by wearing a weighted glove.
If you suffer from dry mouth as a side effect of your MS medication, try these suggestions:
- Drink water or sugar-free beverages on a regular basis.
- Avoid the use of caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol at all costs.
- Lemon juice or sugar-free lemon candies can be used to stimulate the parotid glands (which control saliva).
- During the night, use a humidifier.
Try over-the-counter mouth-moisturizing products first. The alcohol-free Biotène Dry Mouth Oral Rinse is recommended by Kashani. A lot of people swear by their mouthwash. According to the narrator, “It contains some enzymes that would normally be present in saliva.”
People with MS should avoid using mouthwashes that contain alcohol. Kashani explains, “Alcohol tends to dry out the mouth even more.”
The following options may be suggested by your dentist if you’re still having difficulty brushing and flossing properly:
The fluoride in these toothpastes is prescription-level. Kashani explains that they should be used twice a day, just like regular toothpaste.
Fluoride treatments performed at home on a daily basis
Remineralization products for the teeth (such as Recaldent, sold by dentists as a paste and also an ingredient in Trident Xtra Care chewing gum)
The Dentist’s Visit When You Have Multiple Sclerosis
Having regular dental appointments is essential for people with multiple sclerosis (MS). “One visit every six months is fine if the patient is able to take good care of oral hygiene at home,” says Kashani. Those who neglect their oral hygiene at home are urged to come in more frequently.
According to the National Maternal, Infant, and Children’s Services System (NMSS), the following advice can help:
If you have mobility issues, call your dentist in advance to see if the office building is accessible.
In advance of your appointment, be sure to notify the office staff of any special requirements you might have.
Consider whether or not the dentist’s office has a chair that is large enough for you.
The best time to visit is when you are most rested, so plan accordingly.
Preparation and recovery are essential.