Narcolepsy Disrupts My Dental Care!
There are a variety of ways that my narcolepsy affects my dental care. From regular oral hygiene practices to dental emergencies, narcolepsy affects it all!
Cataplectic muscle spams during dental appointments
Imagine you’re sitting in the dentist’s chair getting your teeth drilled. Suddenly, you have a muscle spasm in your leg. The dentist leans back from their work and asks, “Are you okay?”
Even with medication, I can have involuntary muscle spasms
This is my reality every time I sit in the dentist’s chair. I am on medication that lessens my cataplexy — involuntary muscle weakness triggered by intense emotions. However, my medication does not improve the muscle spasms that I have that are also associated with my type 1 narcolepsy.
It doesn’t matter how hard I try to sit still. My muscles will jump without my consent. This puts me in a bad position during dental appointments, with sharp tools in my mouth. It can also affect the quality of dental work that my dentist is able to complete for me.
Staying awake during dental work
It can also be difficult to stay awake for dental appointments. One way I get around this is by asking for a rubber block to help my mouth stay open. This ensures that my muscle spasms will not affect my jaw moving while the dentist is working in my mouth. It also ensures that if I fall asleep, my mouth will stay open and my dentist will be able to keep on working.
Difficulty maintaining oral health
Dental issues associated with narcolepsy do not end at accidental injury or reduced dental work quality. My narcolepsy also makes it difficult for me to get simple tasks done, including brushing my teeth.
If I am having a bad narcolepsy symptom week, I end up not brushing my teeth in the mornings. This can cause dental decay if it goes on for too long. Whether it’s because I’m simply too tired to get up long enough out of bed to do anything other than take my dog out to pee, or because my memory is so spotty from my increased symptoms, it affects my dental health either way.
Managing dental emergencies with narcolepsy
The last dental emergency I had, my crown fell out of my mouth. It hurt pretty badly, but it was too late in the day for me to be able to drive. As a person with severe narcolepsy, I have to be careful about when and how I drive. Driving in the evenings is avoided entirely.
Thus, I was stuck! I had no way to get to the store to get dental cement to glue my crown back in until I could get to the dentist. I had to limit myself to a completely liquid diet until I was able to get an appointment with the dentist to fix my tooth a few days later.
Maintaining good health includes oral health
Living with narcolepsy affects every aspect of my life, including dental care. It is important to maintain holistic health, which includes dental health, mental health, and more.
Have you ever had your narcolepsy affect your dental health? How do you manage these circumstances? Share with us in the comments below.
How would you describe your relationship with your doctor?