Sjögren’s (show-grins) syndrome is a systemic autoimmune disease. It is one of the most common autoimmune diseases, affecting as many as 4 million Americans. It is characterized by inflammation and dysfunction of the glands that produce saliva and tears. Although it can occur in all age groups and genders, nine out of ten Sjögren’s patients are women. The most common symptoms are extremely dry mouth and dry eyes.
Common symptoms include but are not limited to:
- Dry mouth
- Dry eyes
- Increased dental decay
- Dry skin
- Joint and muscle pain
- Fatigue and weakness
- Digestive issues
- Dry, gritty, or burning sensation in the eyes
- Difficulty talking, chewing, or swallowing
- Changes in the sense of taste or smell
How can your dentist help you with Sjögren’s?
Sjögren’s affects saliva production by decreasing the amount of saliva produced by your salivary glands. This can cause severe dry mouth and can also lead to other oral problems. Saliva aids in swallowing, speaking, digestion, and tasting your food.
Lack of saliva production can cause:
- Tooth decay
- Dry cracked tongue and lips
- Disrupted speech patterns
- Periodontal (gum) disease
- Mouth ulcers
- Oral infection
- Bad breath
Dental professionals are frequently the first health care providers to detect the signs and symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome because the most common symptoms start in the mouth. It is best to get regular preventative checkups with Dr. Leslie Anthony every 6 months to maintain a healthy mouth. Always make sure to inform Dr. Leslie Anthony of any changes in your health.
If you have been diagnosed with Sjögren’s let Leslie B. Anthony, DMD be your partner in preventing further oral health problems. Dr. Anthony can provide resources and recommendations for good regular oral hygiene, products that may help stimulate saliva production, and ways to help ease your dry mouth.