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Cerebral Palsy and Salivation

By Lone Tree Pediatric Dentistry - September 19, 2019

We see many patients with Cerebral Palsy (CP) at Lone Tree Pediatric Dentistry.  Often, patients with special needs remain with pediatric dentists into their older years since we are accustomed to managing behavior, which may become more unpredictable in these populations.  In fact, our oldest patient with CP is in her 40s!

A frequent characteristic of CP is an increase in salivation due to a decrease in muscle tone of the oral musculature that normally keeps saliva in the mouth.  I have spoken with parents of patients with CP who occasionally find the amount of salivation frustrating.  This article reviews some of the treatment modalities available to patients with CP and their family members to help mitigate the amount of salivation.  Covered in this article is surgical management (removal of salivary glands), management with medication and management with Botox.  Each of these treatment options will act to decrease salivation by decreasing salivary flow or saliva production.

Saliva has a tremendous effect in reducing the amount of cavities that develop.  The reason being is that as saliva flows through our mouth it essentially washes food debris or bacteria from the surfaces of our teeth.  Saliva also possesses nutrients that help maintain the mineralization content of our teeth, thereby reducing cavities. 

The article reports that surgical management is the only treatment option out of the three that will increase a patient’s risk of developing cavities.  However, I would exercise caution to any parent considering any of these options to manage salivation.  A thorough discussion with the physician of the person with CP is certainly in order.  Impeccable oral hygiene is also a must if there is any possibility of increasing the risk of developing cavities.