People suffering with Parkinson’s disease may notice a variety of changes in their body. Just as Parkinson’s disease affects movement in other parts of the body, so it also affects the muscles in the face, mouth, and throat. Changes in the mouth are often reported with difficulties in chewing, eating, speaking, or swallowing. These changes can happen at any time; however, they tend to increase as the disease progresses. There are a variety of different mouth signs indicating a potential onset of Parkinson’s disease.
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Parkinson’s UK said the disease can cause muscles in a person’s jaw and face to be less efficient, which affects the control they may have over things such as chewing or swallowing.
Parkinson’s disease is also known to cause problems with a person’s tongue which in turn will make chewing and swallowing more difficult.
The charity said: “Less efficient muscles may also reduce the tightness that you have when closing your lips, making it hard to swallow.
“The tongue is important in swallowing.
“We use it to move food around and push it to the back of the mouth to trigger the swallowing reflexes.
“Parkinson’s disease can also impair the reflexes that protect our windpipe from food and drink.”
The charity sight listed potential mouth problems those suffering with Parkinson’s disease may suffer with including drooling, an inability to clear food from the mouth, food sticking in the throat, a gurgly voice, coughing when eating or drinking, choking on food, liquid or saliva, problems swallowing medication, pain when swallowing or discomfort in the chest or throat.
Some of the symptoms which may occur in those suffering with the disease are not typical of it and so often people noticing them may misunderstand them.
Sometimes these symptoms can be particularly embarrassing in social situations where other people can witness the sufferer’s discomfort.
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The fear of embarrassment with unusual symptoms caused by Parkinson’s disease often means they will shun social situations in order to avoid it.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s disease tend to fluctuate in relation to the medication, and some people will have to learn to adjust their medicine regime to help minimise these effects.
Parkinson.org added: “Some Parkinson’s drugs also reduce the flow of saliva to your mouth.
“Tell your dentist if you experience this as they can discuss options which might help.
“They may ask you what drugs you take, so take a list of your medication to your appointments.
“Tell your GP, specialist or Parkinson’s nurse too as they may be able to prescribe different treatments that may not cause this problem.
“Saliva substitutes are also available, and you can ask your dentist or local pharmacist about them.”
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