Autoimmune diseases can have a profound impact on various aspects of a person’s health. While most people associate these conditions with systemic effects, it’s important to understand that autoimmune diseases can also impact oral health. In this article, we will explore the connection between autoimmune diseases and oral health, shedding light on the potential risks and necessary precautions.
Autoimmune Diseases and Oral Health:
Autoimmune diseases occur when the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells and tissues in the body. This immune dysfunction can have implications for oral health. Several autoimmune conditions, such as Sjögren’s syndrome, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis, have been associated with oral manifestations. These can include dry mouth (xerostomia), oral ulcers, gum inflammation (gingivitis), and an increased risk of dental decay and periodontal (gum) disease. Understanding the impact of autoimmune diseases on oral health is crucial for both patients and dental professionals.
Sjögren’s Syndrome and Oral Health:
Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) syndrome is an autoimmune system disorder by its two most common symptoms — dry eyes and a dry mouth; _ Mayo Clinic. It primarily affects the salivary glands, resulting in decreased saliva production. Saliva plays a vital role in oral health by moistening the mouth, neutralizing acids, and aiding in digestion. Reduced saliva flow can lead to dry mouth, which can cause difficulties in speaking, chewing, and swallowing, and an increased risk of dental decay and gum disease. Regular dental visits, maintaining good oral hygiene, and using saliva substitutes can help manage the oral symptoms associated with Sjögren’s syndrome.
Lupus and Oral Health:
Lupus is a systemic autoimmune disease that can affect various organs, including the oral cavity. Oral manifestations of lupus may include oral ulcers, red or white patches on the gums, and sensitivity to sunlight triggering oral lesions. Additionally, some medications used to manage lupus can also have oral side effects, such as gingival hyperplasia (overgrowth of the gums). Maintaining good oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, and discussing any medication-related concerns with both the rheumatologist and dentist are essential for individuals with lupus.
Rheumatoid Arthritis and Oral Health:
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that mainly affects the joints. However, studies have shown a bidirectional relationship between RA and periodontal disease; Source WebMD. Individuals with RA may have an increased risk of developing gum disease, and periodontal disease, in turn, may contribute to the progression of RA. It is crucial for patients with RA to maintain optimal oral hygiene, receive regular dental care, and collaborate with both their rheumatologist and dentist to manage the oral and systemic effects of their condition.
Autoimmune diseases can have a significant impact on oral health, with various conditions showing oral manifestations. Understanding these connections and taking appropriate precautions is essential. Regular dental visits, good oral hygiene practices, and open communication between patients, rheumatologists, and dentists can help manage the oral health challenges associated with autoimmune diseases effectively. At Royal Dental Care, we have highly experienced dentists to look after you. You can book your appointment here.