Sjögren’s Syndrome And Oral Health
Sjögren’s syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disease in which the body’s white blood cells attack the exocrine glands, resulting in inflammation and damage. There is no known cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, but treatments can help relieve symptoms. The symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome include:
- Dry eyes
- Dry mouth
- Joint pain
- Muscle pain
- Skin problems
- Swollen salivary glands (parotid gland swelling)
Sjögren’s syndrome can also affect other body parts, including the lungs, kidneys, blood vessels, and central nervous system.
What Causes Sjögren’s Syndrome?
The exact cause of Sjögren’s syndrome is unknown, but it is thought to be the result of a combination of environmental and genetic factors. It is more common in women than men and usually occurs after age 40. However, it can occur at any age.
How is Sjögren’s syndrome diagnosed?
Blood tests: Anti-SSA (Ro) and anti-SSB (La) antibodies are often seen in people with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR): This test measures inflammation in the body. A high ESR may be seen in people with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Serum protein electrophoresis (SPEP): This is a test that measures proteins in the blood. A high SPEP may be seen in people with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Salivary gland biopsy: A small sample of tissue from the salivary gland is taken and examined under a microscope. This can help confirm a diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome.
Eye tests: A slit lamp examination can be used to look for the dryness of the eyes. A tear function test can be used to measure the number of tears produced.
Sjögren’s Syndrome & Oral Problems
Although Sjögren’s syndrome is associated with the dry and crumbling oral mucosa, patients may have a dry and fissured tongue due to the xerostomia (dry mouth) symptoms frequently seen. In addition, dental caries, plaque accumulation, gingivitis, and/or periodontitis are common in individuals with Sjögren’s syndrome.
The following are some signs and symptoms of Sjögren’s disease that may be connected to oral health issues:
Candidiasis: A fungal infection that can cause white patches on the tongue or inside the cheek.
Mucositis: An inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the inside of the mouth. It can cause redness, swelling, ulcers, and pain.
Angular cheilitis: A condition that causes redness, itching, and burning at the corners of the mouth.
Enlargement of salivary glands: This can cause a feeling of fullness in the cheeks, jaw pain, or a lump under the chin.
Traumatic oral lesions: Traumatic oral lesions occur in the mouth due to injuries, such as biting the cheek or tongue.
Treatments For Sjögren’s Syndrome?
Although there is no cure for Sjögren’s syndrome, many people live with the condition successfully by making lifestyle modifications and taking prescription drugs. Because each person’s experience of Sjögren’s disease is unique, doctors pay attention to the symptoms rather than the disease itself. Over-the-counter medicines, such as artificial tears for dry eyes and saliva substitutes for dry mouth, can help to relieve symptoms.
In more severe cases, doctors may prescribe medications to help with the symptoms, such as:
- Anti-inflammatory drugs: These can help to reduce inflammation and pain
- Immunosuppressive drugs: These can help to control the immune system
- Antibiotics: These can help to treat infections
- Treatment for specific symptoms: In some cases, treatments for specific symptoms may be necessary, such as artificial tears for dry eyes or saliva substitutes for dry mouth
How To Relieve Sjögren’s Syndrome Oral Symptoms
- Stop smoking
- Drink plenty of water
- Use artificial saliva
- Boost saliva flow
- Brush your teeth twice
- Floss regularly
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks
- Consult a dentist
Dentists in Harrisburg NC
All of our professionals at Icard and Strein Family Dentistry maintain the highest levels of accreditation and pursue ongoing education to stay abreast of the latest trends in dentistry.
Our Harrisburg dentist office offers a full range of dental services for you and your family. We offer everything from teeth cleanings to complete smile makeovers. So, no matter what your dental needs are, we can help!
Our Harrisburg NC Dentist Office
To learn more about dental treatments from Icard & Strein Family Dentistry, or to schedule an appointment, call our Harrisburg, NC dental office today at 704.455.5003.