Sjögren's syndrome is a serious autoimmune disease that causes dry mouth, a condition that has a major effect on your oral health, and can lead to complications as severe as tooth loss. Here are three things people with this autoimmune disease need to know about tooth loss.
Why does tooth loss occur in Sjögren's syndrome?
Dry mouth is the cause of tooth loss in people with Sjögren's syndrome. Dry mouth may seem like a minor problem, but it's very serious for your oral health.
Saliva helps to protect your teeth from decay by washing away bits of food that remain on your teeth after meals, neutralizing the acid levels inside your mouth and preventing enamel erosion, and remineralizing your enamel. When you have Sjögren's syndrome, your saliva becomes thick and stringy and can't wash away food effectively. It also stops being an effective buffer against acids and fails to remineralize your enamel, which makes your enamel vulnerable to tooth decay.
Due to these factors, it's common for people with Sjögren's syndrome to have rampant cavities. If these cavities go untreated, many complications can develop. You could develop abscesses beneath your teeth, which are serious infections. The affected teeth may need to be pulled out to allow the pus to drain. Large cavities can also weaken your teeth to the point that they break and need to be extracted.
Can this be prevented?
To prevent tooth loss, the underlying cause, dry mouth, needs to be treated. Your dentist may prescribe medications to increase your salivary flow, and may recommend home remedies to help moisten your mouth. These home remedies can be as simple as drinking more water or chewing sugar-free gum. Lifestyle changes like cutting out caffeine or stopping using tobacco can also help keep your mouth moist, though these changes are more challenging.
How are missing teeth replaced?
If you lose all of your teeth due to Sjögren's syndrome, you can replace them with implant-supported dentures. Implant-supported dentures are permanently secured to your jawbone with metal posts, instead of sitting on top of your gums like removable dentures. Since your mouth is dry, removable dentures can be very uncomfortable, and you may develop sore spots from the friction on your gums. Implant-supported dentures, on the other hand, will minimize these complications.
If you don't want to have surgery, or if you're not a good candidate, you can also get reservoir dentures. Reservoir dentures are similar to traditional removable dentures, but they have an artificial saliva reservoir. This artificial saliva slowly drains into your mouth to keep it moist and prevent damage to your tissues.
Sjögren's syndrome is linked to tooth loss, but with the help of your dentist, you can keep your teeth. Visit a dentist like Mount Royal Dental for more information.