Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease and Your Oral Health

Dentist holding tooth model explaining to patient

Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease is a group of inherited neurological disorders that affects around 1 in 2,500 people worldwide. It impacts the peripheral nerves responsible for movement and sensation, causing muscle weakness and sensory loss.

Although this common genetic disorder does not directly affect teeth, it can cause problems with swallowing, breathing, speaking, and facial paralysis. If you have been diagnosed with CMT, regular checkups with your dentist can help monitor its impact on your oral health.

What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease?

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a hereditary neurological disorder characterized by the progressive degeneration of peripheral nerves. The disease is named after the three physicians who first described it in 1886: Jean-Martin Charcot, Pierre Marie, and Howard Henry Tooth.

CMT can result from various genetic mutations that cause dysfunction in the peripheral nerves, leading to muscle weakness and sensory loss, primarily in the arms and legs.

Common symptoms of CMT include:

  • Muscle weakness and atrophy
  • Foot deformities (high arches and hammertoes)
  • Loss of sensation in the extremities
  • Difficulty with balance and coordination
  • Chronic pain
  • Fatigue

Diagnosing CMT typically involves a combination of medical history, neurological examinations, and genetic testing. Treatment options focus on managing symptoms and improving quality of life. This may include physical and occupational therapy, orthotics, pain management, and, in some cases, surgical intervention.

Oral Health and Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

Individuals with CMT may experience unique challenges when it comes to their oral health. Common dental issues associated with CMT include:

  • Difficulty maintaining oral hygiene due to muscle weakness and lack of dexterity
  • Higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease due to difficulty cleaning teeth and gums effectively
  • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders as a result of muscle imbalances and joint instability

The challenges faced by individuals with CMT when it comes to oral hygiene can lead to increased dental plaque and tartar buildup, putting them at a higher risk for developing cavities, gum disease, and other oral health problems.

Tips for Maintaining Good Oral Health with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease

Maintaining good oral health with CMT requires a proactive approach. The following tips can help individuals with CMT manage their oral health:

  • Adaptive dental tools and techniques: Use toothbrushes with larger handles or electric toothbrushes, or add a grip to a regular toothbrush for easier handling. Floss holders or water flossers can also help remove trapped food from between teeth.
  • Good oral hygiene practices: Brush teeth twice daily for at least two minutes, floss daily, and use an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce plaque and bacteria.
  • Diet and nutrition recommendations: Nutrition is crucial for managing symptoms of CMT, like muscle weakness. Maintain a balanced diet low in sugar and high in protein, vitamins, and minerals to support oral health and improve muscle recovery.
  • Regular dental checkups: Schedule regular dental checkups to monitor and address oral health issues.

If You Have CMT, Support Your Oral Health at Valley Dental Care

At Valley Dental Care, we understand the unique challenges faced by individuals with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Our compassionate and knowledgeable staff will work with you to create a personalized oral health care plan that addresses your specific needs.

Schedule an appointment today to take charge of your oral health and enjoy a brighter, healthier smile.