Written By Dr. Kyle Griffith
Sjogren's syndrome is an immune system disorder. In very basic terms, the body's immune cells, the cells that are meant to fight off disease, for some unknown reason, turn on the body and start attacking the host. The most common symptoms of Sjogren's syndrome are dry eyes and dry mouth. Usually, this syndrome is more common in women than men and most people are older than 40 at the time of diagnosis.
The majority of people have no idea how important saliva is to their daily lives. Something as simple as "spit", once lost, has a drastic effect on a patient's life. A person who suffers from Sjogren's syndrome lives constantly with xerostomia, also known as dry mouth. This leads to difficulty eating, painful or sore oral tissues, difficulty talking, sensitivity to different flavors or spices, and slow oral wound healing. It can't be overemphasized: Dry mouth is horrible.
There is another problem that sets in over time: CAVITIES. Saliva is a natural protective mechanism for the teeth. A reduction or change in consistency in saliva increases a patient's risk for developing cavities. It is especially easy for Sjogren patients to develop rampant decay. If a Sjogren patient's dentist is not aware of this magnified risk, the patient goes through a never ending cycle of cavities and dental work. This cycle cannot continue forever; eventually the dental patient ends up with dentures.
To mitigate this risk, all of the protective dental tools need to be deployed. This means throwing the proverbial "kitchen sink" at a patient. Nothing should be spared; this is no time to be conservative. Oral bacteria need to be controlled, the mouth pH balanced, remineralization of the teeth initiated, and frequent cleanings and examinations scheduled. If a patient is very compliant and all of the protective tools in dentistry deployed, then a Sjogren's patient has an increased chance of keeping their natural teeth and avoiding the downward spiral of uncontrolled decay.
If you or someone you love suffers from Sjogren's syndrome, please contact the 58 Dental team. We stand at the ready to assist you and help keep your natural teeth in the process.
Kyle Griffith DMD
7090 E. Hampden Ave.
Denver, CO. 80224