01 Oct Dry Mouth & Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Sjögren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease in which the body cannot produce enough moisture. And dry mouth is one of the primary symptoms, which can lead to dental complications. It affects 400,000 to 3.1 million people in the United States, but is most common in older women according to the American College of Rheumatology.
What is Sjögren’s?
A healthy immune system attacks bacteria and other foreign invaders in the body. However, in the case of autoimmune diseases, the immune system actually attacks your own body tissue, thinking that it is foreign, which causes damage to the healthy tissue.
For individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome, the immune system attacks the salivary and lacrimal glands, which produce saliva and tears that keep the eyes and mouth moist. Without that moisture, the eyes and mouth become chronically dry. This dryness is not only very uncomfortable, but it can also cause infections in the mouth and dental disease. Sjögren’s syndrome is often a complication of another autoimmune disease, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.
Symptoms Sjögren’s Syndrome
Inflammation of organs like the kidneys or lungs
Let your doctor know about any medications or supplements you’re taking, as many of these can also cause dry mouth.
Who gets Sjögren’s syndrome?
Researchers have not been able to pinpoint a specific cause or risk factor for Sjögren’s syndrome. Nine out of 10 people affected are women. Post-menopausal women are even more prone to developing the disorder. Patients with Sjögren’s often have other autoimmune disorders. Family history may also increase your chances of developing the condition.
How is Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosed?
Your doctor will run a variety of tests if Sjögren’s is suspected. In addition to a physical exam and a medical history, your doctor may perform blood tests to check for antibodies that are associated with Sjögren’s syndrome. Eye tests and a lip biopsy may be performed to measure moisture levels and salivary gland production. Your doctor may also order an X-ray of the salivary glands, called a saliogram.
While there isn’t a cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, its symptoms can be treated. Artificial tears can relieve dry eyes. Plugging or blocking tear ducts, can be used in more serious cases. Eye drops that reduce inflammation in the lacrimal glands around the eyes can increase tear production.
Drinking plenty of water helps Sjögren’s dry mouth. Not only does it keep the mouth moist, it also stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva, keeping the mouth moist all day long.
Chewing gum and saliva substitutes may also help with Sjögren’s dry mouth. There are also medications that can stimulate saliva flow. Humidifiers and nasal saline irrigation may alleviate nasal dryness.
If joint problems are present, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs will be prescribed. Immunosuppressants or corticosteroids may be used in severe cases of joint involvement. Getting plenty of sleep and eating a healthy diet can help with fatigue.
Dental Complications of Sjögren’s
Saliva is the first defense against tooth decay. It contains important bacteria-fighting elements, so as saliva production decreases, its ability to fight off bacteria in the mouth diminishes. Bacteria causes plaque buildup in the mouth, which leads to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Dentist in Prescott
The good news is that most people with this condition continue to lead very normal lives without many adjustments or complications. However, it is even more important to keep up with your routine dental visits. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment. Our team at Hicks Dental Group is passionate about providing comprehensive, compassionate dental care to ensure that your mouth stays as healthy as possible.