Sjögren’s syndrome is an auto immune disorder and is a chronic disease for which there is no known cure. It has a significant effect on oral health, and in fact the initial symptoms are often first identified by dentists during regular check-ups. This condition affects the saliva glands and other glands that produce moisture in the body and can lead to dryness developing in the eyes and mouth. It’s something that tends to affect women who are nearing the menopause, and although the exact cause of the Sjögren’s syndrome isn’t known, it’s thought it could be linked to hormone levels. However some studies have also looked at genetic links and whether or not it may be triggered by a virus. This condition can sometimes run in families, and it may also be associated with other health problems in particular lupus, scleroderma or rheumatoid arthritis.
If you think you might be at risk of developing this condition than it’s worth discussing it with Dr David Brown or another dentist at Leeds City Dentalcare. One of the first symptoms is experiencing a lack of saliva for several months, and being unable to attribute this dryness to any other reasons such as prescription medications or other diseases. Other symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome include unexplained muscle pain, a feeling of fatigue and experiencing numbness or tingling in the extremities.
Sjögren’s syndrome is a condition that can affect numerous parts of the body, and it can even affect the pancreas and liver. If this should happen then there’s a greater chance that cancer could develop in the lymph tissue. Lymphoma can occur in the minor and major saliva glands and can cause them to become enlarged and painful. Additional symptoms include unexplained weight loss, having itchy skin or noticing red patches on the skin, having unexplained fever and suffering from night sweats. However these symptoms can just as easily be a symptom of other illnesses or infections so it is important to get a proper diagnosis.
Alleviating the Oral Symptoms of Sjögren’s Syndrome
If you do have this syndrome is important to make sure you get treatment for your dry mouth or xerostomia. Although there is no cure there are lots of things our Leeds surgery can do to help you feel more comfortable. For instance we can prescribe or suggest saliva substitutes to help replace some of the moisture in your mouth, and it can help to make sure you keep well hydrated. Some of our patients in Leeds find it helpful to suck on sugar-free sweets, or to chew sugar-free gum, especially gum containing xylitol as this can help reduce the number of bacteria in the mouth.
One of the major problems with having a lack of saliva is that it does increase the risk of oral diseases such as tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva has a protective effect on the mouth as it helps to keep it clean, and washes away some of the bacteria present in the mouth. This means good oral hygiene is absolutely essential, and it’s quite possible that we might recommend you use an antibacterial mouthwash and additional fluoride treatments may also be helpful.
Visiting our Leeds surgery at regular intervals will enable us to keep a close eye on your oral health. We’ll be able to treat any early signs of dental diseases much more easily. It’s especially important to try to prevent gum disease or periodontal disease, as people with Sjögren’s syndrome can find it more difficult to fight off infections due to the way this condition affects the immune system.