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Frequently Asked Questions

Sjogren’s Syndrome and Dental Problems

Sjogren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease that affects the glands of the body.  The most common complaints from a patient suffering with Sjogren’s Syndrome are dry eyes and mouth.  At 58 Dental, we see Sjogren’s Syndrome quite often in our patients.  While we as dentists can’t technically diagnose Sjogren’s Syndrome, we are often the first healthcare providers to talk with patients about the possibility of potential symptoms.

So, what are the dental problems that can occur with Sjogren’s Syndrome?  As previously discussed, dry mouth is frequently associated with this condition.  Dry mouth can cause a host of different challenges for dental patients.

Here are the Top 3 dental problems associated with Sjogren’s Syndrome:

  1. Altered Taste:  Dry mouth can affect the taste buds and your perception of taste.  While this is not the worst thing in the world, it can make eating less enjoyable.

  2. Cheek and Lip Biting:  Saliva acts as a lubricant for the cheeks and lips.  When patients have a dry mouth, the cheeks and lips can get stuck to the tooth surfaces and patients have a tendency to bite their cheeks and lips more frequently.  This can be a minor annoyance or for some can cause chronic, painful, large ulcerations in the mouth.

  3. High Risk for Cavities:  Saliva is a natural protector of the teeth.  When the levels of saliva are reduced, it leads to a higher risk for developing cavities.  If this is not addressed early, cavities can ravage the teeth and lead to infection, lost teeth, and pain.  

The risk for cavities to run wild is very high in Sjogren’s patients.  If caught early, cavity preventing measures can be implemented which would halt or drastically slow the formation of cavities.  The problem arises when dry mouth is allowed to progress and not addressed.  I’ve seen multiple patients where they knew they had dry mouth but no one ever talked to them about the risk for future cavities.  Some of these folks ended up losing all of their teeth.  While I’m not saying that tooth loss was 100% preventable, action in the early stages could have led to the patient losing fewer teeth and/or keeping their natural teeth for longer.  

Cavity preventing measures consist of the following:

  1. Direct fluoride applications

  2. Medicated mouthwash and toothpastes

  3. Custom fluoride trays

  4. More frequent dental cleanings

  5. Silver diamine fluoride applications

  6. Salivary substitutes or stimulants

These simple steps are both cost effective and drastically reduce the risk of developing cavities. 

Learn how we can help you or a loved one are suffering from dry mouth and please do not hesitate to contact the team at 58 Dental.  The earlier we can help you, the better off you will be.