It’s important to maintain good oral hygiene, but people with certain conditions are at greater risk of developing caries and yeast infections even when they brush and floss regularly. Among those most at risk are people with the autoimmune disease Sjögren’s Syndrome. Although it is estimated to only affect about three million people in the United States, dentists are often the ones who first recognize each case. Therefore, we at Southern Cross Dental in Colorado Springs wanted our patients to be aware of it.
Sjögren’s Syndrome is characterized by the immune system attacking the body’s secretory glands. This means it interferes with the production of tears and saliva. When a person’s saliva production slows down, they are said to develop xerostomia and will incur dry mouth. The absence of saliva allows food debris and sugary residue to remain on the teeth, feeding oral bacteria. It also allows fissures to develop at the corners of the mouth, where fungus can colonize. A person is also likely to develop bad breath as plaque builds on their tongue.
Because people with Sjögren’s Syndrome have additional oral health problems, they are often advised to have more regular professional cleanings. They may also depend on artificial throat moisturizers and need to increase their fluid intake while cutting back on sugar. It is often difficult to tell the difference between Sjögren’s Syndrome and xerostomia caused by other things, but it occurs most frequently in women over fifty who have recently suffered another infection. If we suspect a patient has Sjögren’s Syndrome, we may refer them for additional counseling to address their eye symptoms.
Drs. Navid and Faranak Rahimpour operate Southern Cross Dental at 1855 S Nevada Ave, Colorado Springs, Colorado, 80905-2516. To schedule an appointment, call 719-471-1717 or visit Southern Cross Dental and fill out a contact sheet.