Sjögren's syndrome is an immune system disorder that targets the moisture secreting glands of your body, resulting in dry eyes and dry mouth. People with Sjögren's syndrome cannot produce tears or saliva. This is more than just uncomfortable, it can be problematic for overall health. Without proper saliva production, people with Sjögren's syndrome are susceptible to a number of different oral health problems.
Without the proper saliva production in your mouth, your teeth will begin to dry out and the enamel will start to weaken. The more dry that they become, the more liable that they will be to crack. Cracked teeth are not only unsightly, but they are more likely to harbor bacteria, which can lead to further problems, such as complete death of the tooth itself.
Saliva is necessary for good oral health, as it helps to wash bacteria and food particles from the mouth. As the mouth begins to dry out, it is less able to wash food and bad bacteria from your teeth. Your gums will also start to recede as your mouth starts to dry out. The lack of saliva allows bacteria to fester and begin to form cavities. The teeth at the root, along the gumline, are more sensitive to bad bacteria and without proper moisture the tooth will start to decay at the root, rather than starting at the crown. This can cause the tooth to become so damaged that it becomes loose, and it might even cause the tooth to detach from the root completely.
Fillings That Fall Out
As saliva lessens, the teeth start to weaken. One of the side effects of weak teeth is fillings or dental work that fall out of the tooth rather than staying put like they are supposed to as the teeth start to shrink and breakdown. If the filling or crown doesn't fall out entirely, small cracks in-between the dental work and the natural tooth can develop, which turn into a breeding ground for bacteria since it is almost impossible to properly clean these small, cracked areas. Your dentist may recommend fluoride treatment to help strengthen your teeth so that your dental work remains properly in place.
In Sjögren's syndrome, the lack of saliva production can cause the salivary glands to become inflamed. They will often become large, red and painful to the touch. Along with the inflammation of the salivary glands, the gums will also become inflamed due to the lack of moisture present in the mouth. However, this inflammation is usually not as wide-spread and harmful in a person with Sjögren's syndrome as it is in a person with standard periodontal disease.
Candidiasis is a yeast infection of the mouth. As the saliva starts to decrease, the likelihood of suffering from candidiasis increases. Candidiasis is presented as a red and raw tongue, as well as red and raw soft tissues, that feels sore constantly. It also creates cracking and dryness around the corners of the mouth.
If you are suffering from Sjögren's syndrome it is important that you notify your dentist. There are a number of different things that can be done to help improve your oral health when your saliva production is low, such as lubricating your mouth with olive oil, chewing gum, or taking certain medications to help increase saliva production, but you need to work with the guidance of your dentist to ensure that your mouth stays healthy and to find the right treatment for your specific case. Sjögren's syndrome doesn't have to mean bad oral health, as long as you and your dentist stay proactive!