Sjogren’s Syndrome: Dental Considerations

Sjogrens Syndrome (SS) is a chronic autoimmune rheumatic disease. It is the second most common rheumatoid arthritis (RA), affecting one to 4 million people. It typically begins in the fourth to sixth decade of life. The majority (90%) of SS suffers are middle-aged white perimenopausal females. SS has also been seen in men, children, and the aged. The prevalence ratio of women to men is 9:1.

There are 2 types of SS, primary and secondary. Primary SS occurs independently of any other associated disorder or systemic disease. Secondary SS occurs in association with another connective tissue disease such as systemic lupus erythematosus, RA, scleroderma, or relapsing polychondritis. Secondary SS accounts for approximately 60% of Sjogrens patients.

What are Sjogren’s syndrome symptoms and signs?

Symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome can involve the glands, as above, but there are also possible effects of the illness involving other organs of the body (extraglandular manifestations).

When the tear gland (lacrimal gland) is inflamed from Sjogren’s, the resulting eye dryness can progressively lead to eye irritation, decreased tear production, a “gritty” sensation, infection, and serious abrasion of the dome of the eye (cornea). Dry eyes can lead to infections of the eyes. The condition of having dry eyes is medically referred to as xerophthalmia.

Inflammation of the salivary glands can lead to mouth dryness, swallowing difficulties, dental decay, cavities, gum disease, mouth sores and swelling, and stones and/or infection of the parotid gland inside of the cheeks. Dry lips often accompany the mouth dryness. Dry mouth is medically referred to as xerostomia.

Typical signs and symptoms of Sjogren’s syndrome include:

  • Dry eyes
  • Dry mouth
  • Dental cavities
  • Fatigue
  • Enlarged parotid glands – one particular set of your salivary glands, located behind your jaw and in front of your ears
  • Difficulty swallowing or chewing
  • Change in sense of taste
  • Hoarseness
  • Oral yeast infections, such as Candidiasis
  • Skin rashes or dry skin
  • Vaginal dryness
  • Dry cough that does not produce sputum
  • Joint pain, swelling and stiffness

If you want more information give your Minnesota Dentistry a call. Dentists are trained to recognize the symptoms of these diseases.

New Operating Guidelines

During the COVID-9 pandemic, the wellbeing of our staff and patients is our highest priority. For this reason, we have implemented several changes in order to support a safe and healthy environment.

— If you are experiencing any symptoms of COVID-9 or any other illness, please reschedule your appointment. Dental appointments will be spaced in a manner that allows for proper social distancing between patients.

— When you arrive at the office, please remain in your car, call our office to let us know you are here, and a staff member will come out to meet you. The staff member will take your temperature with a no-touch thermometer and ask some COVID-19 screening questions. We request that you remain in your car until we call to let you know that your chair is ready.

— Please arrive at your appointment wearing your own mask. If you do not have a mask, we can provide one.

— Please wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before entering the office.

— We ask that patients do not bring others with them into the office, unless you are a parent or guardian of a patient who is a minor or has special needs. If you need to accompany a patient to the door, you will then be asked to wait in your vehicle or outside the office during their appointment.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We thank you in advance for your patience and understanding during this difficult time, and we look forward to seeing you at your next appointment!

George Rizkalla, DDS Team

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