Symptoms of multiple sclerosis and the medications you take for these symptoms can lead to an increased need for dental visits and tooth extractions.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to make managing your dental health easier.
In this article, we look at how multiple sclerosis affects dental care and tooth extractions and what you can do to address these challenges.
Multiple sclerosis can affect your daily dental care and the dental care you receive from professionals.
Oral Hygiene Challenges
Multiple sclerosis can make it difficult to keep up with your oral hygiene. Symptoms of multiple sclerosis can cause:
- vibrations that make holding a toothbrush and brushing a challenge
- a weakened grip that can make holding a toothbrush difficult
- fatigue that can make everyday tasks overwhelming
- facial pain and numbness that make daily brushing and flossing painful
- depression and other mood swings that can affect your motivation
In addition, people with multiple sclerosis are often prescribed medications that can cause dry mouth and sugary dietary supplements that can lead to plaque buildup. These drugs and supplements can cause unwanted side effects, such as tooth decay and gum disease.
It can be difficult to cope with these side effects while controlling the other symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Challenges in dental care
People with multiple sclerosis may also face challenges at the dentist.
Not all dentists are used to treating people with multiple sclerosis. Their offices are often not equipped for people with multiple sclerosis and may have dental chairs that are inaccessible or painful to sit in for long periods of time.
Other common dental care challenges for people with multiple sclerosis include:
- an inability to keep your head still and in the correct position during a dental exam
- breathing problems that make it difficult to take a deep breath while fully reclined in a dental chair
- toothache and numbness making it difficult to keep the mouth open without help
Regular dental visits can be challenging for people with multiple sclerosis. Visits for procedures such as dental extractions can add to those challenges.
Tooth extractions require longer visits and can increase the pain and difficulty of standard dental work. The exact challenges and adjustments depend on the patient, the severity of their symptoms, and the number of extractions needed.
Common steps a dentist will take when a patient has multiple sclerosis include:
- taking breaks in the procedure every 5 to 10 minutes to ensure comfort
- use a mouth rest so that the patient does not have to keep his mouth open alone
- using special cushions or cushions on the dental chair
- coordination with the patient’s GP about medication doses on the day of the procedure
Over time, multiple sclerosis can weaken the gums. If your gums are weak and multiple sclerosis has made dental health a challenge, a dentist may recommend dental implants as a solution to this problem.
Dental implants are more durable than dentures and are often considered a better option for people with multiple sclerosis.
Talk to both your doctor and dentist for advice on how to proceed with a tooth extraction. A dentist can tailor an extraction procedure to your individual needs.
There are some tools you can use at home to make your daily dental care easier. Among which:
- Electric toothbrushes. Electric toothbrushes can make brushing your teeth easier and less tiring.
- Toothbrushes with wide or long handle. Toothbrushes with wide and long handles are easier to grip and operate.
- Plastic flossers. If regular floss is difficult to handle, a plastic handle flosser can be of great help.
- A Waterpik. A Waterpik can help clean between your teeth and is easier to handle than flossing.
- A weighted glove. A weighted glove can help prevent your hand from shaking while brushing.
- Bathroom chairs. Stools and benches in your bathroom can give you a place to rest while you brush.
You can take steps to improve your oral hygiene by following a few steps at home. Among which:
- avoid smoking. Smoking is hard on teeth and gums.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking water can help prevent dry mouth and keep your mouth cleaner.
- Using a humidifier. A humidifier can keep the air around you moist and help prevent dry mouth, especially at night.
- Chewing gum. Chewing gum stimulates saliva production in your mouth. This prevents dry mouth and can help prevent cavities. Sugar-free gum is recommended.
- Make regular dental appointments. Visiting the dentist regularly is an important part of staying healthy.
- Following a balanced diet. Limit foods high in sugars and acids.
- Replace your toothbrush every 3 months. Bacteria and plaque can build up on your toothbrush, and worn bristles can also be too abrasive for your gums, leading to receding gums and inflammation.
Can multiple sclerosis affect the nerves in the teeth?
Multiple sclerosis can cause a type of nerve pain called trigeminal neuralgia. Trigeminal neuralgia is not in your teeth. Instead, it’s nerve pain on the side of your face.
However, this pain is often felt in the teeth and jaw. It can make dental work or even brushing your teeth very painful.
Can multiple sclerosis tooth extraction lead to a stroke?
No, there is no association between multiple sclerosis, tooth extractions and stroke.
Are There Certain Dental Treatments You Should Avoid With Multiple Sclerosis?
Mostly not. But multiple sclerosis can vary from person to person. Even people with the same type of multiple sclerosis can have very different symptoms and progressions.
Since this is the case, some people may have specific symptoms or are taking medications that may interfere with certain dental treatments. Talk to your doctor and dentist before having any treatments to make sure they are safe.
Is the risk of infection after extraction greater due to a multiple sclerosis-weakened immune system?
Although multiple sclerosis is an immune system related condition, it does not directly weaken your immune system.
It causes your body’s immune system to attack healthy nerve cells, but does not prevent your immune system from fighting infection. This means that you are not at an increased risk of infection after the extraction.
However, many people with multiple sclerosis take medications, such as corticosteroids, that can lead to a weakened immune system. That’s why it’s important to tell your dentist about all medications you take before having an extraction or other dental procedure.
You may need to take antibiotics after your extraction to prevent infection.
If you do get a tooth infection, it can lead to a pseudo-exacerbation, which is a temporary increase in the symptoms of multiple sclerosis.
Dental health can be challenging for people with multiple sclerosis. Symptoms and medications can increase the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. This can make visiting the dentist a challenging and difficult experience.
People with multiple sclerosis who need tooth extractions may have problems with long dental procedures. It is best to talk to both your doctor and dentist about how best to go about having an extraction. Some dentists and dental offices may be better prepared to help people with multiple sclerosis.
Taking steps to protect dental health is one of the best ways to avoid tooth extractions. Using tools such as adaptive oral hygiene equipment and taking the time to build good oral health habits can help people with multiple sclerosis manage their dental health.