Dr Anna Lee Blog Post

Oral and Dental Care for Patients with Parkinson's Disease

Written by Anna Lee Dec 27 • 3 minute read

Oral and Dental Care for Patients with Parkinson’s Disease


Parkinson’s disease is a movement disorder that affects the motor functions, balance, coordination and the ability to perform common daily activities. Parkinson’s disease occurs when nerve cells in the area of the brain that controls movement become impaired and/or died. The symptoms of Parkinson’s disease begin gradual and get worse over time. Symptoms may include tremor, stiffness of the limbs, slowness of movement, impaired balance, difficulty swallowing, chewing and others. Maintaining good oral and dental care is a challenge for people with Parkinson’s disease.

Most people with Parkinson’s disease are about age 60, but there is 5-10% of people have the disease before the age of 50. Both men and women can have Parkinson’s disease. There is no medical test to detect the disease, so it can be difficult to diagnose accurately. 
Parkinson’s disease (PD) symptoms can affect the mouth; teeth, gums, and the jaw.     
      Some symptoms can cause oral and dental health problems
  • Tremor-make it hard for the hand to brush and floss the teeth
  • Drooling (excessive saliva)-can cause fungal infection at the corners of the mouth. 
  • Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing)-can cause choking during a dental procedure
  • Dry mouth increases the risk of dental decay

     Tips to maintain oral and dental health
  • Use electric toothbrushes-they are easier to hold and have a rotating head that can assist in finer movements associated with tooth brushing
  • Toothbrushes with a bigger grip are easier to hold (adaptive grip aids to make tooth brushing easier)
  • Brush right after every meal
  • Avoid mouthwashes-can be a choking hazard
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid products that include alcohol (make dry mouth conditions worse)
  • Eat and drink in an upright position
  • Take small bites and sips
  • Avoid talking when eating
  • After eating a meal or snack, check the inside of the cheeks for any food pocketing (avoid bacteria staying in the mouth)
  • Visit your dentist regularly (at least once every 6 months)

    Tips to improve dental visits
  • Inform the dental office of your Parkinson’s disease symptoms. This will help the dentist and staff provide better treatment
  • Schedule short dental appointments
  • Plan and schedule dental appointments about 60 to 90 minutes after taking medication
  • Review the details of your overall health and the medications you take with the dentist & staff
  • Ask the dentist to adjust the dental chair that is comfortable for you
  • Consider replacing broken old fillings, crowns and bridges, and ill-fitting dentures during the early stages of Parkinson’s disease. Dental visits may become more difficult as Parkinson’s disease progresses.

An estimated 1 million Americans are living with Parkinson’s disease. There are ongoing researches on Parkinson’s disease. Currently, there is no cure. It is possible to have a good to a great quality of life living with Parkinson’s disease. Working with your medical doctor and following recommended therapies are important in successfully treating the symptoms. Seeing your dentist regularly will help to maintain your oral and dental health. Dr. Lee is a general & cosmetic dentist in Glendora, CA. She is experienced in all phases of dentistry. She treats patients of all ages. With proper medical and dental care, symptoms of Parkinson’s disease can be treated and controlled. Call our office for a dental exam at 626-335-5114 or visit us at www.annaleedds.com
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