Dysphagia and Oral Health: The Importance of Dental Care for Swallowing Disorders
April 15th, 2023 by Candis Hall
Dysphagia, or difficulty swallowing, is a common condition that can occur in people of all ages. It can be caused by a variety of factors including neurological disorders, aging, and head and neck cancer. If left untreated, dysphagia can lead to serious health complications including dehydration, malnutrition, and aspiration pneumonia.
The Link Between Oral Health and Swallowing
Many people do not realize the connection between oral health and swallowing, but they are closely linked. Poor oral hygiene can lead to dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease, which can make it more difficult to chew and swallow food properly. Along with this, some dental treatments can also contribute to swallowing difficulties.
Maintaining Good Oral Health for Dysphagia Management
Good oral hygiene will help prevent dental problems from exacerbating the symptoms of dysphagia. Some tips for good oral health include:
- Brush and floss regularly: Good oral hygiene is crucial for preventing problems like tooth decay and gum disease. Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss at least once per day. A water flosser is a good alternative if you struggle to use conventional floss.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for maintaining good oral health. Your dentist will also be able to identify any dental problems early on and provide treatment before they get worse.
- Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water is important for maintaining good oral health and preventing a dry mouth, which can make swallowing more difficult. You can use products like SimplyThick food thickening gel to make drinking water easier.
- Eat a healthy diet: A well-balanced diet with fruit, vegetables, and lean protein can help prevent dental problems and support good overall health. Choose healthy foods that are easy to blend or puree to make them easier to swallow.
Managing Dental Treatments with Dysphagia
If you need to undergo dental treatment, such as a filling, root canal or extraction, talk to your dentist about any concerns that you have regarding your swallowing difficulties. Your dentist may be able to recommend strategies that you can use to manage any discomfort or swelling in the mouth and throat. Along with this, they can keep your condition in mind throughout the treatment and take steps to make it more comfortable for you.
Specific Dental Treatments for Dysphagia Management
Along with general tips for maintaining good oral health, there are some specific dental treatments that may be useful for people with dysphagia. For example, your dentist may recommend the use of fluoride treatments to strengthen your tooth enamel and prevent decay, or the use of sealants to protect vulnerable areas of the teeth.
Overall, maintaining good oral health is an important aspect of managing dysphagia and preventing further complications. If you have trouble swallowing or have been diagnosed with dysphagia, it’s worth speaking to your dentist about strategies that you may find useful for maintaining good oral health and managing any dental problems that might arise. By working together, you can ensure the best possible outcome for your oral health.