My patients with Parkinson’s disease who are being treated with oral appliance therapy and/or physical therapies are reporting significant improvement in their quality of life. While their results always include improved balance and reduction of the jerky movements, it is important to note they are also reporting reduced pain levels, less fatigue and better sleep.
Previous articles, written in PRO’s newsletter, have described the relief from dyskinesia (jerky movements) with oral appliance therapy. Dr. Brendan Stack has pioneered those efforts. I have treated movement disorders for many years and have helped educate most of the dentists in Southern California who currently treat Parkinson’s patients.
Is “movement” the only problem that PD patients face?
Studies show that chronic pain is the prominent complaint of Parkinson’s symptoms. Recently published research from the Department of Rehabilitation, Hatsukaichi Memorial Hospital, Hiroshima, Japan states that; “Patients with PD are more likely to suffer from pain. Indeed, the chief complaint of patients with severe motor disturbance and severe pain is pain rather than motor disturbance.”1
Parkinson’s patients have nervous systems that are easily stimulated. Chronic pain from any physical structure is a potent stimulator of the central nervous system (CNS). Stimulation results in jerky movements, grinding of teeth, facial pain and Restless Leg Syndrome. So quieting the nervous system by relieving pain goes a long way to improving quality of life. Treatments designed to reduce pain and relax muscles both internally and externally are necessary for optimum relief.
Parkinson’s patients can’t breathe well at night!
An article published in the Journal of Neurology Review states: “Sleep disorders in Parkinson’s disease are present in 60-98% of patients and reduce the quality of life.”2 The prominent sleep disorder with Parkinson’s disease is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).3
People with OSA have symptoms of insomnia, chronic daytime fatigue, high blood pressure, GERD, interrupted sleep, headaches, facial pain and cardiovascular disease. Disturbed sleep results in light or restless sleep that does not allow for the production of Human Growth Hormone (HGH) giving the body the ability to heal. So restoring proper breathing during sleep can result in dramatic improvements in their symptoms.
Coordinating therapies, triage (separating injuries) and making proper referrals for a team approach is extremely important. It requires a greater look on overseeing of care. Dentists trained in an interdisciplinary approach are qualified to fulfill this role. Patients in our Centre are individually and comprehensively evaluated for a specific treatment plan that is designed for them. Our techniques are non-surgical and holistic, meaning that we look at the whole body. The result is better over all stability, balance, reduction of inflammation, pain, restoration of proper breathing and quality sleep.
The improved balance, reduction of inflammation and pain will allow for more freedom to exercise, which is so necessary for people with Parkinson’s disease.
What dentists are qualified to take charge and oversee your treatment?
The answer is dentists that have demonstrated their knowledge of treatment for chronic pain and sleep disordered breathing. They do so by being certified in these subjects by organizations dedicated to the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders.
These areas have been the focus of my practice for over 20 years. I have devoted the past 12 years to research and teaching protocols for evaluation and treatment of these disorders. The non-surgical techniques and comprehensive evaluation system that I have developed are currently being utilized at the University of Tennessee Craniofacial Pain Center. You have the comfort of knowing that there are an additional 11 TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centres located in the U.S., Canada and New Zealand whose dedicated doctors are credentialed in craniofacial pain and sleep disordered breathing.
1. Toda K, Harada T., Prevalence, classification, and etiology of pain in Parkinson’s disease: Association between Parkinson’s disease and fibromyalgia or chronic widespread pain. Tohoku J Exp Med. 2010;222(1):1-5
2. Mondragon-Rezola E, et. al. Sleep disorders in Parkinson’s disease: insomnia and sleep fragmentation, daytime hypersomnia, alterations to the circadian rhythm and sleep apnea syndrome. Rev Neurol 2010 Feb 8;50 Suppl 2:S21-6.
3. Noradina AT, Karim NA, et. al. Sleep-disordered breathing in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Singapore Med J. 2010 Jan;51(1):60-4.