Estimated to affect as many as 4 million people in the United States alone, Sjögren's syndrome is the second most common rheumatic disease. If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome, be sure to read on. Your oral health is at risk.
How does Sjögren's syndrome adversely affect oral health?
Sjögren's syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disease where immune cells kill the glands that produce tears and saliva. This creates a common condition called dry mouth in patients with the disease, adversely affecting their oral health. Saliva circulation is required to cleanse your mouth and teeth of left-over food remnants. With the reduction of saliva, these remnants are left to break down into acids that eat away at tooth enamel. To compound the problem, Sjögren's syndrome mainly affects seniors.
Who does Sjögren's syndrome affect?
Sjögren's syndrome most often sets in after menopause and affects women 90 percent of the time. However, one out of ten Sjögren's syndrome patients are men. While less common, it can also occur in people of all ages.
What treatments are there for Sjögren's syndrome?
There is no cure for Sjögren's syndrome. Artificial tears and eye treatments can be used, but to ensure good oral health there are a few things we recommend:
- Dental Checkups – Seeing your dentist in Cambridge is essential to ensure your teeth stay healthy. Checkup visits are recommend at least twice a year.
- Drink Fluids - Drink plenty of fluids, preferably water. Soft drinks and caffeinated beverages can compound the problem.
- Good Oral Care – Maintaining a good oral-health routine is essential. Clean your teeth twice daily, use fluoride-infused toothpaste and mouthwash, and remember to floss at least once each day.
- Increase Humidity - Humidify the air in your home. This can increase the water in your mouth.
- Stimulate Saliva – To stimulate the glands that produce saliva, you can suck on sugarless lemon drops, glycerin swabs, or chew sugarless gum. This will help increase saliva circulation and clean your mouth.
- Take Medications – Some medications such as Salagen and Evoxac can help improve saliva production. See your doctor to find out if these are right for you.
If you or a family member has been diagnosed with Sjögren's syndrome, contact Dr. Mazo’s Fresh Pond Dental office in Cambridge today. His team of oral-health experts would be happy to help.