Dental Care for People with Multiple Sclerosis

 By: Robert Melkonyan
Multiple Sclerosis (also commonly abbreviated to MS) is a progressive disorder, an autoimmune condition wherein the central nervous system gets attacked by the body's immune system; these later results in demyelination and paralysis. Demyelination is the general term for diseases of the nervous system where the myelin sheath, the substance that serves as the covering of the nerve fibers, gets damaged. This in turn results disorders or impairments in muscle functions, cognition and sensation.

Multiple sclerosis is just one form of demyelination and also the most common type. The disorder was first described by Jean-Martin Charcot in 1868.

The primary correlation between multiple sclerosis and the patient's oral health is the loss of muscle control. This condition makes it harder for the patient to brush his own teeth. In cases where the patient can at least manage to brush, due to the twitching and the less muscle control, it only results to poor brushing of the teeth. Patients with severe multiple sclerosis symptoms may require the assistance of another person just to clean his teeth.

Multiple sclerosis patients may also have a hard time relaxing in the dentist's chair. This makes it quite difficult for the dentist to properly check the patient's teeth as well as to conduct any necessary dental procedures or operations. As such, it is advisable and as much as possible, to limit the dental visits to the shortest time possible. This is to lessen the discomfort that the patient is already experiencing. Stress and fatigue may also play an important factor to this decision.

And also, people suffering from multiple sclerosis are not advised to wear dentures. This is due to the fact that the patient may regularly experience uncontrollable muscle movements on the face which in turn may result to the dentures accidentally getting dislodged. This may cause further accidents and harm to the patient.

Among the concerns as to why it is necessary for a multiple sclerosis patient to have consistent oral hygiene are the typical disorders associated with not brushing, flossing and not going to the dentist. These are tooth decay, halitosis or bad breath and even gingivitis. All of these are easily avoided just with proper oral hygiene.

While there is still no cure for the disorder, doctors and other health professionals only set the following goals to improve the quality of life of their patients:

1. maintain oral function and as much as possible, for the patient to be able to take care of his own dental hygiene
2. keep patient from acquiring further diseases and disorders
3. maintain a desirable appearance to improve self-esteem and self-image for a better interaction with society

If you have noticed, one of the primary concerns of doctors is for the patient to be able to maintain his own oral hygiene. This is attainable especially with patients whose condition has not yet turn to the worst. In cases where this is not possible, family members are trained to assist the patient or if possible, to hire a caregiver who can help with such necessities.
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Article Tags: dental care, oral health

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