Multiple Sclerosis (MS) & Oral Health | Affinity Health
With high-quality affordable dental cover from Affinity Health, MS patients can manage your family’s dental care needs effectively.
Multiple Sclerosis in a Nutshell
Because MS is a neurological condition, patients are unaware that this progressive disease can also impact the health of your teeth and gums. MS symptoms and the medications used to treat these symptoms, might make it challenging to ensure adequate oral hygiene, resulting in dental cavities and gum disease.
According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society Of South Africa, MS is an often disabling disease of the central nervous system. It interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis.
Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide and is of the most common diseases of the central nervous system.
Why does Multiple Sclerosis impact Oral Health?
You need optimum hand dexterity to brush and floss properly for good dental hygiene. However, often symptoms of MS, such as loss of motor function and poor muscular coordination, result in poor teeth brushing techniques. In addition, those with MS may find it difficult to attend regular dental visits and check-ups because of mobility impairment or fatigue associated with MS.
Those with MS may also be at a higher risk of teeth decay due to medications used to treat MS symptoms that can cause dry mouth (xerostomia), which in turn can cause bacteria to accumulate, resulting in periodontal (gum) disease, otherwise known as gingivitis.
“Gum disease can cause a ripple effect on one’s health,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health. “Numerous studies have demonstrated links between periodontal disease and heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes, kidney disease, malignant diseases, dementia (perhaps even Alzheimer’s disease), and various other types of diseases.”
Dental Self-Care Tips
Affinity Health offers the following advice for those with MS, to prevent dental problems before they happen:
- Brush your teeth twice a day: after breakfast and before going to sleep.
- Use toothbrushes with built-up handles. One trick is to cut a small slit in the side of a tennis ball and slide it onto the toothbrush’s handle.
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride.
- For people with MS, swallowing is difficult. This can be a challenge when brushing your teeth. It is possible to get toothbrushes, which have in-built suction to remove saliva and toothpaste from the mouth while cleaning.
- Plaque disclosing tablets can encourage cleaning. They stain plaque on the teeth. This can improve technique by showing which areas are need attention.
- Use flossing tools to help you floss.
- Wear a weighted glove while brushing to manage tremors.
- Use a tongue scraper or brush your tongue daily.
- Eat a well-balanced diet without too many sweets.
- Have regular dental appointments, usually every six months.
- Replace your toothbrush at least every three to four months.
- See your dentist as soon as possible if you experience bleeding gums, tooth or jaw pain, or tooth sensitivity. Remember that healthy gums are pink, pain-free, and do not bleed when brushing or flossing. If your gums bleed during brushing, it’s a red flag that something is wrong.
- Manage your family’s dental care needs effectively by choosing between Affinity Dental’s Silver, Gold, or Platinum dental plans. Join Affinity Dental’s extensive network of over 2 000 dentists provides you with advanced, professional dental care.
- Keep your mouth in good condition with regular dental check-ups and examinations, professional cleanings, tooth extractions, and fillings.
About Affinity Health
Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading provider of health insurance, offering you a range of options at affordable rates including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, your budget, and your lifestyle. Our range of healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service at all times. For more information, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.