As many as four million Americans are living with Sjögren’s Syndrome, a chronic autoimmune disease in which people’s white blood cells attack their moisture-producing glands.
First identified in 1933, Sjögren’s is a systemic disease with multiple symptoms affecting the entire body. The most common symptoms of Sjögren’s are dry mouth and dry eyes. The mucous membranes and moisture-secreting glands of your eyes and mouth are usually affected, resulting in decreased production of tears and saliva.
If you are experiencing dry mouth, talk to your doctor or dentist. Since symptoms of Sjögren’s mimic other conditions and diseases, Sjögren’s can often be overlooked or misdiagnosed.
Dry mouth can significantly compromise your oral health. Because saliva helps protect the teeth from the bacteria that cause cavities, you’re more prone to developing cavities if your mouth is dry. Early diagnosis and proper treatment are important and can prevent serious complications.
If your dry mouth is caused by Sjögren’s, your doctor can prescribe medications such as Salagen and Evoxac that help increase saliva production.
Some things you can do for dry mouth in general include the following:
- Drink lots of fluids, particularly water.
- Chew sugarless gum or hard candies to boost saliva flow. Limit sweets, especially between meals. Lemon juice in water also can help stimulate saliva flow.
- Try artificial saliva (in spray or lozenge form) which contain a lubricant that helps your mouth stay moist longer.
- Use a nasal saline spray to help moisturize and clear nasal passages; a dry, stuffy nose can increase mouth breathing.
- Brush your teeth and floss after every meal.
- Use daily topical fluoride treatments and antimicrobial mouthwashes.
Dr. Douglas Angell and the staff at Angell’s Dentistry are committed to helping you keep your mouth healthy. Give us a call to schedule an appointment for a dental checkup and be sure to visit our website at: www.angellsdentistry.com.