March 18, 2013

Oral Health and Parkinson's Disease

Understanding Parkinson's Disease is Critical in our Approach to Oral Health

A prosthodontic practice has a large senior citizen contingent, and those patients have many of the diseases and conditions common with late adulthood. Understanding them is critical to our approach to dental treatment and the ability of patients to maintain their oral health.  One of those diseases is Parkinson's disease.

Severity and Symptoms Vary

The type and severity of symptoms experienced by a person with Parkinson's disease vary with each individual and the stage of the disease.
Symptoms typically begin appearing between the ages of 50 and 60. They develop slowly and often go unnoticed by family, friends, and even the person who has them.
The most common symptoms include: Tremor or shaking, in a hand, arm or leg. It occurs when awake and sitting or standing still (resting tremor) and subsides when the body part is moved.

Common Early Signs

Rigidity stiff or aching muscles. One of the most common early signs is a reduced arm swing on one side when walking that is caused by rigid muscles. Bradykinesia--slow, limited movement, especially when moving from a resting position, like getting out of a chair or turning over in bed.
Weakness of face or throat muscles affecting the ability to talk or swallow, causing choking, coughing or drooling, softer speech with a monotone. Loss of movement of facial muscles causes a vacant facial expression, called "Parkinson's mask."

Difficulty with Walking and Balance 

Gait disturbance and postural instability
--difficulty with walking and balance. This causes small steps, shuffling with feet close together, a stooped posture (bent forward slightly at the waist) and difficulty turning around. Balance and posture problems may result infrequent falls. Emotional and physical stress tend to make tremors more noticeable, whereas
sleep, complete relaxation, and intentional action or movement usually reduce or stop the tremor.
There are other physical and psychological symptoms that become more pronounced as the disease progresses.

Consult your Physician 

Armed with this basic information, you can approach your physician for diagnosis, advice and treatment of these symptoms occur

Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309

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