Healthy Living

A Guide to Help Cope with a Life-Altering Parkinson's Diagnosis

Even Oral Care

Due to the difficulty associated with speaking and movement of the muscles of the face, chewing and swallowing become one of the more debilitating and dangerous non-motor symptoms. Patients with dentures or missing teeth may have a more difficulties as muscles freeze and without the presence of a dental dam, patients now run the additional risk of choking and aspiration of saliva and food particles which can lead to lung infections including pneumonia.

One of the major issues facing patients is that of dry mouth. Many of the medications used to manage the Parkinson’s, can cause a marked decrease in saliva production. Saliva is important for a number of reasons. Not only does it lubricate the mouth to assist in swallowing, it’s vital to taste and chewing. The enzymes and antibacterial properties present in saliva help to stop sugar from accumulating on teeth and aid in food digestion.

Dental plaque which is always present in the mouth until removed, contains bacteria that turns the sugar that is ingested into acid which then attacks the teeth causing decay. Without sufficient saliva the sugar converts faster and plaque hardens more quickly causing even more damage to dentition. Dry mouth can also lead to a propensity for gum disease. As the gums shrink and tooth roots are exposed, tooth decay becomes more likely.