There is a cause and effect relationship between MS and dental health. One of the main characteristics and symptoms of MS is heightened levels of inflammation. This happens as a result of the immune system deteriorating. Gingivitis and periodontal (gum) disease are more likely to occur because of this. When inflammation occurs due to the nature of Gingivitis, a flare of MS symptoms manifest. These MS symptoms in turn release chemicals that penetrate the gum membrane and cause more inflammation. It is a never ending cycle, that without dental intervention, will deteriorate a patient’s health. Dental procedures can be used to treat gum disease and it’s symptoms but without proper prevention, a patient’s oral health will continue to deteriorate.
Oral medications used to treat MS also contribute significantly to the onset and symptoms of oral disease. Many MS medications aim to even out and control the immune system. These medications end up causing dry mouth (xerostomia), swollen gums (gingival hyperplasia), oral ulcers (ulcerative stomatitis), oral thrush (candidiasis), and reactivation of the herpes viruses. Lack of saliva caused by dry mouth causes a multitude of dental problems. Saliva is needed to reduce plaque, stop the growth of bacteria, and wash away food debris. Without this, tooth decay and gum disease can develop. The other side effects of MS medication, like oral ulcers and swollen gums, make it painful or even impossible to brush and floss properly.