A new study found that Parkinson’s patients have up to 10 times more untreated decay than a healthy peer. And they live in the community on average for 15 years before being institutionalized. So, most every dental team has a few Parkinson’s patients, or at least, patients with preclinical symptoms to Parkinson’s.
A recent study in the Lancet observed that as many as 5 years before a formal diagnosis of Parkinson’s, there are such early warning signs, including:
- balance problems
- low blood pressure
- erectile and urinary dysfunction
- depression and anxiety
These preclinical Parkinsonian patients often see the dentist more than the doctor. Which means that there are opportunities for the dental team not only to preempt rising dental decay, but also to advise the patient about measures (such as exercise and perhaps diet modification) that may forestall the onset of Parkinson’s.
The mantra of health care, including dentistry, as the population ages and resources become limited, is to find progressive diseases like Parkinson’s and dental decay early enough to start effective treatment before irreversible damage has occurred.
And one progressive disease like Parkinson’s, is linked to another like dental decay.
How many of your patients have symptoms of Parkinson’s? And, more particularly, what do you think they want you to do in terms of their dental care?