Multiple Sclerosis Dental Implants
There are currently one million people in the United States who have Multiple Sclerosis, an unpredictable disease that disrupts your brain’s ability to properly transfer information to the rest of your body. As a result of these transmissions being modified, slowed down, or failing to transmit entirely, numerous symptoms can develop that can vary widely from one individual to another, but may include things such as impaired coordination and balance, memory loss, prickling sensations and numbness. In severe cases, MS can eventually result in muscle control loss and even paralysis.
Although there is no cure for MS at this time, there are treatment options available. If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with MS, it is essential that they seek out and receive the high quality, comprehensive care they need to manage this illness and continue to enjoy a high quality of life. It is also important that they are well informed on how to best practice self-care at home, especially when it comes to things such as diet, exercise, and oral health care.
I Have MS: Am I a Candidate for Dental Implants?
Because MS effects an individual’s muscle control, self-care functions like flossing or brushing one’s teeth can become more difficult over time. Because of this increased difficulty, patients with MS may not be cleaning their mouth as thoroughly as they need, or they may avoid brushing and flossing all together because of the frustration in doing so. As a result, patients with MS are at an increased risk of developing gum disease, which can lead to other issues developing, such as gum recession, halitosis, cavities, and even tooth loss. If tooth loss does occur, dental implants may need to be placed.
Although dentures are also an option, in most cases dental implants are encouraged for patients with MS because they provide much greater stability, prevent additional jawbone deterioration, and will vastly improve the overall quality of one’s life. Dentures, though more cost affordable, can be very uncomfortable, especially for patients with MS, and will not provide the adequate stimulation to keep the jawbone healthy. Another reason dentures are discouraged for patients with MS is because dry mouth is a common symptom of MS. Dentures already make eating and talking more difficult, but these issues are compounded when paired with a dry mouth. Spasticity is also a common symptom among patients with MS, which can make removing dentures not only difficult, but possibly dangerous.
Dental implants will eliminate these issues and provide you with a stronger, more durable solution. If you have MS and are considering treatment options, talk to your periodontist about whether dental implants are right for you. For additional information on dental implants and other ways you can sustain your oral health in relation to your MS, please refer to the following.
Impact MS May Have on Dental Care
One of the most important things you can do to preserve your oral health while having MS is to find a clinic that understands your needs and will provide you with the modified care you need to receive care in a comfortable manner, especially if you are having a procedure that requires multiple visits and is invasive, such as dental implants.
For example, your periodontist should be sensitive to the fact that MS patients often have trouble keeping their mouth open for extended periods of time, which is why it is important to find a clinic that can schedule shorter visits, or, if a longer appointment cannot be avoided, that they provide you with breaks as often as you need. Many patients with MS also benefit from having appointments performed soon after they wake up, so their energy level is higher. These modifications are especially important for MS patients who have fatigue, stress, and muscle spasm symptoms.
Additionally, because MS patients have weakened muscles responsible for controlling breathing, you should always be seated at a 45-degree angle, which will make it easier for you to breathe throughout the procedure. It may also be helpful to use a mouth prop during the procedure so you can preserve your energy.
MS patients also commonly have difficulty identifying where pain or discomfort is originating from, so it is important that your periodontist perform a thorough examination of your oral health prior to scheduling an intensive procedure like dental implants.
Patients with MS may also develop trigeminal neuralgia, numbness of the teeth, lips, and jaws, as well as partial or complete facial paralysis, which can complicate the dental implant procedure. It is also important (if applicable) to find a clinic that is wheelchair accessible if your MS has impaired your ability to walk.
Home Care Considerations and Modifications for Patients with MS
In addition to finding a provider that understands your unique needs, it is also important to be educated on what steps you can take to maintain your oral health and avoid the need for procedures like dental implants. This is especially important if your MS is causing spasticity and/or diminished muscle control, as both can reduce your saliva production, ability to swallow food, and your ability to use your tongue to swipe food away and swallow. Additionally, certain medications that are taken to manage MS symptoms, such as immune-suppressant drugs, corticosteroids, muscle relaxants and antidepressants can also increase dry mouth symptoms.
Talk to your periodontist about any recommendations they may have for brushing and flossing aids, and if necessary, consider hiring a caregiver to assist you with your oral health routine. It may also be helpful to schedule routine cleanings every three or four months rather than every six. These deep cleanings will ensure your periodontist can monitor your oral health and provide treatment early on if gum disease should develop, which will significantly reduce your risk of experiencing tooth loss and requiring dental implant treatment.
Provided you find a periodontist who understands your unique needs and that you continue to practice good oral hygiene habits, you should enjoy good oral health. If you have developed oral health issues, however, and are currently concerned that your having MS may preclude you from receiving dental implant treatment, contact your periodontist to see if you are a viable candidate. Your treatment may require some modifications, but in many cases, having MS should not preclude you from being eligible for this procedure.