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Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms, prognosis, and complications

Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease, and its main symptoms are dry eyes and dry mouth. Though the disorder can affect anyone, women over 40 are the most at-risk. Learn more about this disease, as well as its impact on your oral health.

How does Sjogren’s syndrome cause dry mouth?

Sjogren’s syndrome attacks your tear and saliva glands. The mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands in your eyes and mouth are affected first, causing dry eyes, dry mouth and other issues from dry tissues. Other symptoms vary but also commonly include fatigue and joint pain.

Is having a dry mouth a problem?

Short answer, yes. Saliva is essential for a healthy mouth. It helps neutralize acids to prevent tooth decay, in addition to removing food particles.  That’s why having a dry mouth makes you more likely to have tooth decay .

 Dry mouth can also cause a host of problems, including:

  • Sore throat
  • Bad breath
  • Thick saliva
  • Difficulty speaking and swallowing
  • Mouth and lip sores

How can you treat Sjogren’s syndrome?

While there is no cure, in most cases the disease is not life threatening. It is, however, uncomfortable and treatments can help address complications such as cavities, yeast infections and vision impairment.

How can your dental care team help?

Your dentist or dental hygienist can help detect Sjogren’s early on. That’s why it’s important to make and keep your regular checkups.  Be sure to tell your dental care team if you have a dry mouth, and tell them of any medications you take, since those are also a cause of dry mouth

There are a number of ways to help stimulate saliva to manage a dry mouth, including mouth rinses, sugar-free gum, water intake, and dietary changes.  Visit with your dentist for your best approach to dealing with a dry mouth to help you avoid cavities.