Autoimmune Series: The Oral Health Impact of Sjogren’s Syndrome

November 7, 2019

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disorder in which the body begins attacking its own moisture producing glands. This can be saliva glands, tear ducts and other organs. The issue for oral health occurs when the saliva glands are affected and flow of saliva is reduced. This autoimmune disorder appears across all racial and ethnic groups, but is more common in women ages 40-50 years (perimenopausal). 

Woman drinking water.

Dry mouth from Sjogren’s Syndrome will not subside, no matter how much water you drink.

The cause of Sjogren’s is unknown, as is the case with many autoimmune diseases. Despite being one of the most common autoimmune disorders, it takes an average of 4.7 years to receive a diagnosis, according to the Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation. Sjogren’s Syndrome has been given two separate classifications. Primary, which manifests as dryness of the mouth and eyes, and secondary, which is associated with another systemic rheumatic autoimmune disease such as scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis or lupus.

The primary effect of Sjogren’s on oral health is xerostomia (dry mouth) caused by the damage to salivary glands. Saliva plays multiple roles of high importance in the oral cavity:

 

-Washes away food debris after eating and drinking.

-Maintains more neutral pH to counteract the acidic effects of bacteria.

-Retains calcium, phosphorus and fluoride ions to keep enamel strong. 

-Moistens food and contains enzymes to begin digestion.

 

If left untreated xerostomia can severely increase the rate and severity of decay an individual experiences. If you feel you’ve been having dry mouth, always mention it to your dentist and hygienist. It may be caused by medications, but may also be an indicator of Sjogren’s syndrome. It’s important to work in conjunction with your physician and dentist to get a definitive diagnosis. If you have questions about Sjogren’s Syndrome or Xerostomia, ask your dentist or hygienist at your next visit with us! 

 

References

https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/s/sjogrens-syndrome 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18362310

http://jdh.adha.org/content/89/6/365


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