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Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells. Autoimmune diseases are a significant health problem in the United States. According to a study published in 2016, more than 23 million Americans live with an autoimmune disease.

Autoimmune diseases can cause inflammation in various body parts, including the mouth. This can cause numerous dental health problems. Learn more about how autoimmune diseases affect oral health and how to manage these conditions to protect your smile.

Dry Mouth

Autoimmune diseases like Sjorgen’s Syndrome can cause dry mouth by attacking the salivary glands. This can lead to complications such as cavities and tooth decay because there is insufficient saliva to wash away bacteria and debris or remineralize tooth enamel.

For dry mouth, drinking plenty of water and sucking on ice chips or sugar-free hard candy can help. Your dentist may recommend a saliva substitute to help provide additional moisture in your mouth.

Gum Disease

Autoimmune diseases can cause gum disease by disrupting the body’s natural defense mechanisms that protect against bacteria in the mouth. It can cause inflammation in the gums and soft tissues of the mouth, causing symptoms like redness, swelling, bleeding, and gum pain.

Depending on the severity of the gum disease, you need to see a dentist for a deep cleaning, scaling and root planing procedure, or antibiotics. You may require more invasive treatment for advanced periodontitis, such as flap surgery to remove damaged tissue and tartar from below the gum line or a gum graft to restore tissue lost due to gum recession.

Mouth Sores and Ulcers

Mouth sores are small, red, painful lesions on your soft tissue. Autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and lupus prevent the body from healing properly and can cause mouth sores and ulcers.

To treat mouth sores, it is vital to keep the area clean and free of food debris. Rinse with salt water after eating to eliminate food debris and bacteria.

Over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen can also help with pain relief.

Temporomandibular Joint Pain

Autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus can lead to inflammation and pain in the temporomandibular joint. This joint is located in front of the ear and connects the jawbone to the skull. It can cause difficulty opening your mouth wide, chewing, and speaking. You may also experience headaches, neck pain, and dizziness.

Your dentist may recommend a special mouth guard or splint to help protect the joint from further stress. If medications are needed, your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or corticosteroids to reduce swelling and pain.

Manage Your Oral Health with St John Smiles

Autoimmune diseases can have a significant impact on your oral health. See your dentist regularly to manage symptoms and complications with your oral health due to autoimmune disease. St John Smiles provides comprehensive dental care for patients with autoimmune diseases.

We can help you manage your oral health and keep your smile healthy. Contact us at (219) 232-8956 today to schedule a consultation.

Be proud of your smile.