Caring for Your Teeth when You Have an Autoimmune Disease

Have you been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease? These conditions can affect your life in a variety of ways, including your oral health. Find out how your teeth might be impacted by your diagnosis.

What Do You Need to Know about Autoimmune Diseases?

The immune system works to defend the body against invading microorganisms.

Unfortunately, there are times when the immune system begins to attack the cells of your own body, and this can result in an autoimmune disease. Symptoms may include dizziness, fatigue, and low-grade fever, and lupus is one of the most common autoimmune diseases. This condition also results in symptoms like rash, joint pain, and swollen glands.

How Can Autoimmune Diseases Affect Your Mouth?

An autoimmune disease can impact your oral health in a variety of ways. One of the primary issues is dry mouth. Autoimmune diseases can affect the salivary glands, and when salivary flow is restricted, dry mouth may result. This can increase your risk of developing cavities, gum disease, or other infections, as saliva is your mouth's first line of defense against these issues. Saliva is needed to rinse off the teeth to remove bacteria, sugar, and acids that can harm the enamel.

What About Medications?
Certain medications that are used to treat autoimmune disease like lupus can also lead to oral health issues. Drugs that work by suppressing the immune system can raise oral cancer risk, and thrush is another common side effect of lupus medications. If you have thrush, you will likely experience red or white patches in your mouth that are caused by a fungal infection, and the end result can include trouble swallowing or burning.

If you are living with an autoimmune disease, your dentist is an important part of your medical care team. You should be sure that your dentist and hygienist both know about your diagnosis so that they can look for signs of a potential problem. We can also offer helpful suggestions for how you can keep your teeth and mouth healthy despite your autoimmune disease.

Please contact us if you have any questions about autoimmune disease and your oral health.

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