Do You Have Dry Mouth, Dry Eyes or Difficulty Swallowing? Have You Received a Sjögren’s Syndrome Diagnosis?
Learn about Sjögren’s Syndrome, dry mouth, and other symptoms that can impact the health of your teeth and mouth.
Thank goodness for advances in dentistry and for dental product manufacturers who are creating innovative solutions to the common problems associated with dry mouth!
Dry mouth is a common side effect resulting from many causes such as Sjögren’s Syndrome, radiation, cancer, aging, and even many medications. At 58 Dental, patients who suffer from dry mouth are commonly seeking answers to very similar questions, such as:
- What can I do to increase my saliva output?
- Will the health of my teeth be affected by the lack of saliva?
- Can we get my dentures to fit better, even though I have dry mouth?
- Should I talk with my medical doctor about my medications?
Every patient is unique, and we find that a customized treatment plan which meets each patient’s individualized goals is the best. Aspects of a customized plan may include the following:
- Medicated toothpaste and mouthwashes
- Custom fluoride trays
- An increased frequency of exams and cleaning
- Salivary substitutes
- Natural anti-bacterial lozenges
- Denture stabilization procedures
- Salivary stimulant medications
What is Sjögren’s Syndrome and Why Does It Cause Dry Mouth?
This uncomfortable and difficult to diagnose syndrome is an autoimmune disorder that most commonly affects women over the age of 40. Scientists and doctors are not certain what causes Sjögren’s, but there seems to be a strong genetic component, with the most significant risk factor for diagnosis being a family member who was diagnosed previously. Doctors often have a difficult time diagnosing Sjögren’s, as its two most common symptoms, dry eyes and dry mouth, can be caused by a variety of illnesses, allergies, and prescription medications.
Sjögren’s Syndrome is caused by the abnormal production of antibodies in the blood that are then directed at various tissues of the body. These abnormal antibodies result in the inflammation and dysfunction of the glands in the body responsible for the production of saliva and tears.
Inflammation of the glands due to Sjögren’s commonly results in:
- Dry mouth and dry eyes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dental decay and cavities
- Mouth sores and swollen gums
- Gum disease
- A dry cough and hoarseness
How is Sjögren’s Syndrome Diagnosed?
If you feel that your eyes and mouth are uncharacteristically dry, it’s important to raise this concern with a medical professional who can perform the necessary assessments required to reach a Sjögren’s Syndrome diagnosis properly. Testing typically includes radiologic nuclear salivary scans to detect inflammation of the salivary glands, followed by a biopsy of salivary gland tissue to confirm any abnormal findings. Additionally, an ophthalmologist can perform a variety of sophisticated tests to measure the ability for your tear ducts to produce lubrication.
Is There a Sjögren’s Syndrome Treatment?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for Sjögren’s, and treatment is focused on reducing and mitigating symptoms. As saliva serves as a natural protective mechanism for your teeth, Sjögren’s sufferers are at an increased risk for tooth decay.
To minimize the increased risk of cavities associated with Sjögren’s Syndrome, dental intervention is crucial!
Oral bacteria must be strictly controlled and cavities stopped in their tracks before extreme tooth decay is allowed to irreparably damage the patient’s teeth. To accomplish this, mouth pH should be balanced, remineralization of the teeth performed, and most importantly, regular cleanings and examinations scheduled.
Due to the increased risk of cavities and tooth decay associated with Sjögren’s Syndrome and dry mouth, it is highly recommended that patients inflicted with this uncomfortable condition put increased emphasis on teeth and mouth care. Regularly consulting with a dentist who is knowledgeable about the unique risk factors associated with low saliva production can significantly reduce the risk of cavities, tooth decay, and in severe cases, the need for dentures.
If you or a loved one suffer from Sjögren's Syndrome, please contact the 58 Dental team to discuss a treatment plan. Kyle Griffith, DMD of 58 Dental is one of the leading dentists in Denver, CO specializing in the treatment of Sjögren's Syndrome.
For more information about Sjögren’s Syndrome, we invite you to read ‘Sjogren’s Syndrome And Your Mouth’ by Dr. Kyle Griffith.