April is Sjögren’s Syndrome awareness month…

19th April 2024

To explain a little more about this condition, Rachel, one of our Oral Health Educators, has provided a summary of what to look out for and how you can help yourself if you have been diagnosed with this condition.

What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?

Sjögren’s Syndrome is an autoimmune disease which can affect many parts of the body. Some of the most frequently presenting symptoms which patients notice are dry mouth and dry eyes due to its effect on the moisture-producing glands. Severe fatigue, widespread joint pain and inflammation. Raynaud’s disease, reflux, lung, kidney, liver, digestive and nervous system problems may also be linked to the disease.
Some of these symptoms can have a negative impact on oral health. Here are some of the issues you may experience and ways to help them:

A dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay and gum disease, due to the lower levels of protective saliva. It can also cause difficulty with eating and speaking. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene and avoiding sugars in the diet are imperative to reduce the risk of developing decay. Your dentist may prescribe a toothpaste with a higher fluoride content if they feel it is appropriate. Alternatively, you may be advised to try a toothpaste which doesn’t contain SLS (the foaming agent found in many toothpastes and soaps) which can cause irritation.

Be sure to avoid sucking boiled sweets such as sherbet lemons or drinking water with lemon in it to stimulate the salivary glands. Worryingly, we’ve seen this recommended by sufferers but be aware the sugar and acid will cause far more problems than they will solve. Always carry a bottle of still water with you to sip. Try chewing sugar-free gum or sugar-free mints occasionally and reduce caffeine and alcohol intake.

Reflux, especially if poorly controlled, exposes the teeth to more frequent acid attacks. Rinse your mouth with water after having reflux. Do not brush your teeth straight after having reflux as the enamel will be softer immediately after an accident attack.

Reduced resistance to infection.
Some of the medications prescribed for Sjögren’s may suppress your immune system. You may be more prone to suffering from a sore mouth, ulcers and cracks at the corners of the lips.

Cracks at the corner of the lips (angular cheilitis) may be as a result of a fungal or bacterial infection and may require a prescription cream or ointment if lip balm doesn’t help.

Painful joint inflammation can make it trickier gripping your toothbrush and using interdental brushes.

Seek individual advice from your dentist or hygienist on different toothbrushes and interdental cleaning methods which may make gripping easier. Electric toothbrushes tend to have larger, easier to grip handles. Long-handled interdental brushes can be easier to manipulate between your teeth than floss or smaller interdental cleaning aids.”

As ever, if you need further advice, please speak to your dental team here at Coppice View.

Sjogrens syndrome vector illustration. Dry body autoimmune disease. Labeled medical explanation with moisture producing glands. Symptoms diagnosis and consequences.
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Coppice View Dental Care
104 Kings Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 5HH