Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a multifaceted neurological disorder that influences various aspects of an individual's life. While the focus typically centers on its impact on mobility and neurological function, the connection between MS and oral hygiene/health is an emerging field of interest. MS can have both direct and indirect impacts on oral health. A recent study shows that people with MS have higher rates of tooth decay and gum disease.
MS-related medications and physical effects of MS (such as fatigue, pain, vision problems, etc.) may directly or indirectly increase the risk of dental disease in MS patients. Good oral and dental hygiene should be a priority for MS patients since it will avoid infections which may trigger MS and improve digestion and overall health. Although visible and invisible disabilities associated with MS could make dental care very difficult for some patients, poor dental hygiene can trigger and worsen MS.
This article delves into the intricate relationship between MS and oral hygiene/health, exploring how the two interact and offering insights into managing oral health in the context of MS.
Oral Health in MS:
TraXel | MS & Oral Hygiene
Motor Impairments: MS often leads to muscle weakness, coordination difficulties, and fatigue. These issues can extend to the muscles responsible for oral functions like chewing and swallowing, potentially affecting oral hygiene practices.
Xerostomia (Dry Mouth): MS-related factors, such as medications and autonomic dysfunction, can contribute to dry mouth. Reduced saliva flow increases the risk of dental decay, gum disease, and discomfort.
Dexterity Challenges: Individuals with MS might experience challenges in fine motor skills and dexterity. This can affect toothbrushing, flossing, and other oral care routines.
Impact of Oral Health on MS:
Inflammatory Cascade: Poor oral health, particularly periodontal disease, can lead to chronic inflammation. Inflammation is believed to play a role in the progression of MS and its symptoms.
Quality of Life: Oral health issues can add to the burden of MS symptoms. Pain, discomfort, and speech difficulties stemming from oral problems can impact overall well-being.
Managing Oral Health with MS:
Collaborative Care: Close communication between neurologists and dental professionals is essential. Dentists should be informed about a patient's MS status, and neurologists should consider oral health when planning treatments.
Adaptive Techniques: Individuals with MS can benefit from adaptive oral care tools designed to facilitate oral hygiene tasks. These might include electric toothbrushes with ergonomic handles or flossing aids.
Regular Dental Visits: Routine dental check-ups and cleanings are crucial for detecting and addressing oral health issues promptly.
Hydration and Nutrition: Adequate hydration helps combat dry mouth, and a balanced diet supports overall health.
Conclusion: The interrelationship between multiple sclerosis and oral hygiene/health is a dynamic one. Acknowledging the potential impact on oral health and the ways in which oral health can influence MS underscores the need for comprehensive care. By adopting proactive oral hygiene practices, collaborating with healthcare professionals, and staying informed, individuals with MS can enhance their overall quality of life and well-being.