Parkinson’s Disease and Teeth

As people live longer, there are more diseases that can occur, plus more medications to treat them.   These factors play a role in dental treatment.

One disease that presents a challenge to dentists is Parkinson’s Disease.   This disease is a degenerative motor skills disorder which can then deteriorate even further to more significant motor skill loss and even dementia.

Home Dental Care

Home care becomes more difficult because the ability to floss, and even the willingness to attempt to floss are diminished. Because these are usually older patients who may well have lost bone levels, there are larger spaces between the teeth where food and plaque can accumulate. This condition can lead to periodontal disease and decay.

I have a patient who has been a seeing me for about a year. He is now in his 70s and has been living with Parkinson’s disease for over 10 years. He can walk down the hall with the assistance of a walker but has difficulty executing the recommended home care. On his last cleaning visit, x-rays were taken and gross decay was noticed on 2 adjacent lower teeth, the second premolar and the first molar. There were no signs of decay on the x-rays from the prior year. This condition necessitated a root canal on the molar, and crowns on both teeth. He tolerated all procedures well and is motivated to keep his teeth. A combination of an electric tooth brush and more frequent cleanings, such as every 3 months, is the best chance for him to keep his teeth. I also recommend having x-rays every 6 months instead of the normal annual x-rays because of this surprising event.

Medications and Dental Decay

I have noticed that the medication that patients go on can also cause decay issues in conjunction with poorer hygiene. No doubt, these patients create difficulties for the treating dentist, and they must receive special care.