Neglecting Your Dental Hygiene Can Hurt Your MS

Neglecting Your Dental Hygiene Can Hurt Your MS

Dental hygiene is not a high priority for some people. Brushing, flossing, dental checkups, and cleanings are often overlooked or avoided. For those with a disability, keeping up with a dental care routine can be incredibly challenging. While the energy expended to ensure proper dental care can increase fatigue, it is so important to make adaptations to take care of your teeth and gums.

Without proper dental hygiene, bacteria can linger and lead to illness, infections, and disease. Fortunately, keeping up with your daily dental routine can help to keep the bacteria at bay. The issues that can arise from the absence of consistent and effective dental hygiene are true for anyone, and especially for those of us with multiple sclerosis.

This connection is examined in “Multiple sclerosis and oral health: an update,” an abstract published on the National Center for Biotechnology Information website. The abstract states that MS and periodontal disease have a similar inflammatory origin.

Dental professionals should be knowledgeable of the connection between dental care and inflammatory diseases and determine if their patients with MS need specific dental hygiene support.

Discuss the latest research in the MS News Today forums!

A publication by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) titled “Dental Health: The Basic Facts” states that dental care may be neglected due to fatigue and focusing on MS-related needs. It stresses the importance of good dental hygiene to avoid infections that can increase MS symptoms. It also states that a healthy mouth can help aid in proper digestion and nutrition.

My main dental concern over the past few years has been with mercury amalgam dental fillings. I have some of these fillings, and it has been suggested to me that I should have them removed. The worry has been that mercury in the fillings could be a trigger for MS or that it can worsen MS symptoms. The NMSS article states that this theory is not scientifically verified, and that there is no need to have the fillings removed. My dentist concurs with that advice.

My husband’s pancreatic cancer first started me on this quest to learn more about MS and oral hygiene. I was searching risk factors associated with his type of cancer when I found the article “Oral Bacteria Increasing Pancreatic Cancer Risk,” on the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network website. The article reports that Jiyoung Ahn, PhD, “found that two specific species of bacteria in the mouth are associated with a more than 50 percent increased risk of pancreatic cancer.” This, to me, supports the importance of consistent quality oral hygiene.

I have found that taking care of myself has benefits, and neglecting and letting things go can have repercussions. So, the positive thing I hope you take from this column is that with a proper oral-hygiene regimen, you can hopefully prevent serious issues before they start.


Note: Multiple Sclerosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Multiple Sclerosis News Today or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to multiple sclerosis.

Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
Debi is a retired admissions and marketing director residing in Oregon. She is a mother of three grown children and has three grandchildren. She was diagnosed with PPMS in 2010. With her column, “Faith of the Mustard Seed,” she hopes to help and inspire others who are also dealing with MS.
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  1. I find myself lacking in this area as well. If I don’t feel like I can brush them with toothpaste, then I just brush them with water thoroughly. I will also sit down and use a cup underneath my chin to catch the toothpaste and then just get up to rinse. It can be difficult to stay standing for so long, while brushing my teeth but I try to do it when I can. I have noticed that my teeth have begun to crumble a little bit in my mouth where I do have some cavities. I also noticed that my gums or doing something strange but they’re not bleeding. It seems as though Ms affects every part of your body, nothing seems to be spared. I guess we do the best we can.

    • Debi Wilson says:

      I agree Sandra, We can only do the best we can. I relate to you, that the standing is difficult, a lot of times I will set on my walker to brush my teeth. I also found little disposable toothbrushes (wisps) for in between brushing. They make it easier, they don’t replace actual brushing, but they do offer some cleaning. When you see your dentist next time I hope they can offer you more suggestions to help. Best to you , Debi

  2. Deb Paget says:

    I have a question in regards to dental care. I’m in a wheelchair, so I’m able to brush regularly. Flossing is getting challenging, as my right hand weakens, but so far so good! My question is regarding the actual dental visit. It is so difficult transferring into the dentist’s chair from my chair. I use a sliding board, but it’s a little scary. Are there dentists who make accommodations for the handicapped? Just trying to plan ahead of time. Thanks for any advice!

    • Debi Wilson says:

      Great question Deb! I have heard that some Dentists do have accommodations for wheelchair patients. That would be something you would have to check out with the national dental association or the national multiple sclerosis society , they may be able to help you find a dentist in your area that makes those accommodations. Thanks for your comments and good luck to you! Debi

      • Senator says:

        I agree with regular dental care is good daily, and then on a regular dentist visit. I was not able to continue reg dental visits due to my MS. I was unable to lay on my back longer than about 15 minutes when pain would start in my legs and at about the 1/2 hr mark, pain was unbearable. I stopped regular visits and really just forgot about them. I started back and just told them I can only do about 30 min at a time. I held up for 45 min and that was all I could bear. My right leg was in a lot of pain and it took about 4 hrs to subside. My wheelchair tilts backward so they moved the reg chair to the side and did cleaning in my chair. They were ready to do work in my chair even before I told them about tilting back.

        • Debi Wilson says:

          Hi Senator,
          I’m glad they were able to accommodate you, but sorry for your pain! Thank-you for sharing that adaptions can be made at the dentist! Best to you! Debi

  3. Marcia Johannsen says:

    I am 54 today but have been using a Water-Pik since I was 16. Even if I am too tired to brush my teeth, I can run the Water-Pik over my teeth and it gets a lot (teeth feel smooth and cleaned like I had just brushed them). I do add 2 capfuls of cheap mouthwash in the water reservoir.

    Otherwise, I brush twice a day.

  4. Thank you for this great dental tips! Dental hygiene is very important for everybody. In recent time, a lot of diseases have been linked to poor oral hygiene. Thank you for sharing The abstract states that MS and periodontal disease have a similar inflammatory origin.

  5. Hassan says:

    I just Go Back to the Google Search Results if I don’t read This Catchy Title. “Neglecting Your Dental Hygiene Can Hurt Your.”. I Can’t Stop My Self To Read this. And I wanna say that the Information Provided in this Article Was Really useful. Keep Up the Good Stuff. Waiting for the upcoming UpDate from you.

  6. Lisa Guzman says:

    I can’t believe the author of this article simply gave up her investigation on the importance of having mercury amalgams removed just because her dentist said they were fine. Mercury is a heavy metal, toxic and known for its detrimental affects on the nervous system, specially the brain. When dentists put in what they call a “silver” amalgam which is mercury. They wear protection to ensure they themselves don’t let their skin touch the metal, and masks to ensure they don’t inhale it. Can you imagine taking all these precautions to put something that will go directly into your mouth? Every time you chew tiny particles come off and enter your bloodstream. While nursing my infant, I was told not to have my amalgam removed as I’d most likely inhale a ton of chemical release during the process. As this would enter my bloodstream it would taint my milk supply and then my breastmilk would be toxic for my baby. Mercury used to be a widely used ingredient in making hats which is where the term “Mad Hatter,” comes from. People who made hats ultimately fried their brains due to mercury exposure. Unbelievable that this is dismissed in the article. Even my dentist doesn’t do mercury fillings anymore because of the health issues and he pushes to have them reversed. I highly recommend deleting this horrible recommendation to ignore the amalgam factor as clearly one dentists’ poor opinion isn’t enough.

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