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  • Writer's pictureEngage PT, OT, SLP Therapy and Wellness

Importance of Good Oral Hygiene


Brushing teeth

If your mother ever threatened to wash out your mouth with a bar of soap, she was actually on to something… we all have foul mouths! The human mouth is filled with bacteria. The literature actually indicates that there are more than 700 different species of bacteria that can be found in the mouth. Much of this bacteria is good, but some of it is bad and has been directly linked to different disease processes.


When you have health and/or physical changes and don’t practice proper oral hygiene, the bad bacteria can take over. Every time we swallow, we swallow some of the bacteria that is in our mouth. This becomes a concern if you have an impaired swallow and are actually aspirating some of the bad bacteria that is in your saliva, meaning that the bacteria gets into your lungs. This can cause aspiration pneumonia. Unfortunately, aspiration pneumonia is a leading cause of death in individuals with Parkinson’s Disease.


However, you can help prevent this by having good oral care!

  • Make sure that you brush your teeth, tongue and the roof of your mouth (palate) at least twice a day

  • Don’t forget to floss between your teeth

  • Use an antimicrobial mouthwash daily

  • Make sure to have regular dental checkups, cleanings and x-rays

  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet and limit added sugar intake

  • Avoid smoking and other tobacco products


What if I wear dentures?


Even if you have no teeth or wear dentures, proper oral hygiene is important to reduce the risk of pneumonia associated with dysphagia. Follow your dentist’s guidelines on cleaning your dentures and continue to use a toothbrush to clean your gums, palate, and tongue daily.


Click here to access a podcast interview with Kaila McCarthy CCC-SLP featured on The Parkinson’s Vitality Podcast.


SLPs at Engage Therapy and Wellness in Syracuse NY specialize in treating communication, speech, and swallowing problems in people with neurological disorders. To learn more about how we can help, call 315-810-2423 or email info@brainbodybetter.com

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