Parkinson’s disease is thought to be caused by low levels of dopamine in the brain and is characterized by tremors, slowness of movement, and rigidity. These symptoms tend to become more pronounced as the disease progresses. The disease may be accompanied by other symptoms such as dementia and anxiety. Some Parkinson’s patients may have swallowing difficulties.
Good dental care can be a challenge for Parkinson’s patients. The inability to control movement makes traditional dental care in a dentist’s office difficult or even dangerous. Getting regular dental care for Parkinson’s patients is important for the patient’s oral and overall health. Due to poor motor control, many patients have difficulty brushing their teeth properly. Without regular professional dental care, oral heath can rapidly deteriorate
Poor oral health has been linked to heart disease. In addition, Parkinson’s patients require a diet with higher than normal caloric intake, but dental issues can cause the patient to eat less or to consume foods that have low nutritional values.
For home dental care, many patients find that using an electric toothbrush is an effective technique. The electric toothbrush has greatly improved the oral hygiene of many Parkinson’s patients.
Getting effective routine dental care depends on the extent of the disease. In the early stages of the disease, strategic timing of the patient’s visits to the dentist to coincide with the most effective periods of the patient’s medication can be enough for the patient to tolerate traditional dentistry.
As the disease progresses, dental procedures may be more safely and comfortably completed with the patient partially or fully sedated. There is a small group of dentists who specialize in sleep and sedation dentistry. These dentists are better equipped and experienced treating special needs patients.
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