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Dental Bridges Vs. Dentures For People With Neurological Problems

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If you have suffered a stroke or have been diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, then you may have certain neurological deficits such as swallowing or chewing problems. While physical and occupational therapy can help restore movement, range-of-motion, and strength, they may be ineffective in treating neurological problems affecting the head and neck. Dental bridge treatment not only enhances your smile, but it may also help improve symptoms caused by a stroke and Parkinson's. Here are some ways dental bridges may be a better option than dentures if you have neurological problems.

Reduces Choking Risk

Neurological damage from a stroke or Parkinson's disease can impair your ability to properly speak and chew. Full dentures can slip out of place, especially after neurological disorders have caused facial weakness or tongue paralysis. Wearing dentures after a stroke can raise your risk for choking because you may be unable to feel them when they slip and slide out of place, which may result in improper chewing. If you don't chew your food properly, you may swallow large pieces of food that may get stuck in your trachea.

Also, when your tongue or mouth is paralyzed, you may be unable to feel your dentures in your mouth, which may cause you to choke on them if they slide down your throat. While this risk is small with full dentures, it may be greater if you only have a partial denture. Dental bridges are cemented into place to your natural teeth so that they stay in place, eliminating the choking risk associated with partial dentures. Bridges also help evenly distribute the force of chewing so that when you eat, you can break down your food easier.

When you have a stroke or are in the later stages of Parkinson's disease, you may lose weight, and because of this, you may need to have your dentures relined, or in some cases, have new dentures made. Extremes in weight can either cause dentures to become too loose or too tight, both of which can worsen neurological symptoms and raise your risk for choking. Conversely, your dental bridge will fit and feel comfortable despite weight losses or gains.

Also, if you need to be fed because of weakness or paralysis, having a stable dental bridge in place as opposed to an ill-fitting denture will make it easier for your caregiver to feed you. Like dental implants, dental bridges look and feel like your natural teeth. 

Ease Of Care

Parkinson's disease and the effects of a stroke can cause problems with manual dexterity and coordination. Because of this, you may have problems removing your dentures, cleaning them, and putting them back into your mouth. It may even be more difficult if your dentures don't fit anymore because of weight loss. Because dental bridges are bonded to your natural teeth, you don't have to remove them, so caring for them is just as easy as caring for your natural teeth.

It is not uncommon for people with neurological diseases to develop gum disease because they are unable to properly clean their dentures or even remove them so that their oral tissues can be properly cleaned with an antimicrobial mouthwash. Also, following a stroke, you may develop salivary gland dysfunction, which may prevent your salivary glands from producing enough saliva to rinse away bacteria inside your mouth.

This further raises your risk for infection, especially when the bacteria gets under your dentures. To promote salivary flow, your dentist may recommend that you chew sugarless gum, which you may be unable to do if your dentures do not fit properly. Conversely, dental bridges will not impair your ability to chew gum.

If you had a stroke or are struggling with the neurological effects of Parkinson's disease, make an appointment with your dentist. They will explain the benefits of dental bridge treatment, dental crowns, and dental implants, all of which may help enhance your ability to bite, chew, and swallow.