Multiple Sclerosis Dental Implants
Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). MS is a degenerative disorder that attacks the brain and spinal cord by impairing the material that protects the nerve cells, the myelin sheath, causing messages that are meant to travel throughout the body from the brain to get blocked, slowed down, modified, or to fail to transmit entirely. There are a range of symptoms that may develop as a result of MS, including numbness and prickling sensations, poor memory, impaired balance and coordination, and diminished muscle control. Eventually MS may result in partial or full paralysis. While there is no known cure for MS, partial and complete remissions are very common.
Individuals with MS often suffer from oral health issues as a consequence of the disease, which is why it is essential for patients with MS to take active efforts to engage in preventative dental care and be made aware of all available procedures that can help them deal with this debilitating disorder. One of the ways MS impacts an individual’s oral health is a consequence of diminished muscle control, which makes it progressively difficult to perform basic self-care functions such as brushing and flossing. Over time, this diminished self-care places the individual at a higher risk of developing gum disease, which can continue to progress and cause issues such as tooth loss, gum recession, and other health issues to develop. If these issues do occur, dental implants may be a recommended treatment option.
Dental Implants for Patients with MS
Patients with missing teeth generally opt for either dental implants or full or partial dentures. Dentures can be an especially problematic solution for patients with MS, as dry mouth is a common symptom associated with MS. Wearing dentures also makes talking and eating much more difficult, and these issues can be compounded as a result of having a dry mouth. Diminished muscle control also increases the patient’s difficulty in maintaining the fit of the denture, especially when symptoms begin to advance. Finally, muscle spasticity can make removing dentures difficult, and possibly even dangerous.
For these reasons, dental implants or implant supported dentures are often recommended as effective alternatives, as they reduce or eliminate these challenges and provide a permanent, natural feeling solution that can dramatically improve an individual’s quality of life. To learn more about how having MS can impact your dental care options and whether dental implants are the right treatment option for you, please refer to the following.
How Having Multiple Sclerosis Can Affect Your Dental Care
If you have MS, it is essential that you find a clinic that is sensitive to your unique needs and able to provide you with care that is personalized to your condition and designed to provide you with a pain-free and comfortable experience, especially if you are undergoing an extensive procedure like having dental implants placed.
One of the most important considerations for providing oral care to patients with MS is the difficulty for these patients to have a procedure performed for extended periods of time. Scheduling appointments that are as short as possible will help patients whose MS symptoms include muscle spasms, stress, and fatigue. If longer appointments are necessary, your periodontist should include five-to-ten-minute breaks every half-hour or so and schedule appointments early in the morning or at a time that best aligns with your peak energy level.
It is common for patients with MS to also develop respiratory issues due to the muscles responsible for controlling breathing becoming weakened. As such, your periodontist should ensure that you are seated at a 45-degree angle so you are able to breathe easily while the procedure is being performed. A mouth prop may also be used to help relieve exertion from the patient holding their mouth open for extended periods of time.
Another consideration in treating patients with MS is that they can struggle with being able to pinpoint discomfort or pain, which is why a thorough and careful diagnosis is essential before committing to intensive procedures like tooth extraction or dental implants. Additionally, patients with MS can develop issues like numbness in the lips, jaws, and teeth, trigeminal neuralgia on one or both sides of their face, and partial or full facial paralysis. All of these factors can impact how treatment needs to be approached and can result in standard procedures like dental implants to become much more challenging. Finally, it is important to find a clinic that is able to accommodate patients in a wheelchair (when applicable).
Home Care for Patients with MS
Although dental implants can be taken care of like regular teeth, patients with MS often have to take special care to follow good oral hygiene due to the difficulties they face in practicing oral hygiene. Because of diminished muscle strength and spasticity that can develop, MS effects an individual’s saliva production, ability to use their tongue, and ability to properly ingest or swallow food. As a result, patients with MS are at an increased risk of developing oral infections, periodontal disease, and/or cavities.
This risk is compounded by the difficulty in brushing and flossing as a result of diminished motor control. If you have MS and are experiencing these difficulties, talk to your periodontist or pharmacist about modified brushing and flossing aids. It may also be necessary to hire or ask a caregiver to assist with your oral health routine to ensure you do not develop additional oral health issues. Another factor that can increase these risks are side-effects of certain medications commonly taken by patients with MS, such as antidepressants, muscle relaxants, corticosteroids, and/or immune-suppressant drugs, which can increase symptoms of dry mouth.
To learn more about steps you can take to keep your mouth hydrated and suggested tips for modifying your oral health routine, or to see if you are a good candidate for dental implants, talk to your periodontist. Dental implants can provide a long-term solution to correct missing teeth, but it is essential that you are able to take proper care of your implants and remaining teeth to avoid needing similar procedures in the future.