Have an Autoimmune Disease? Why You Need to Keep an Eye on Your Teeth
There are many autoimmune diseases today, and people who have them need to be aware that they could be affecting them in more ways than they think. One way that needs to be given some consideration is that many common autoimmune diseases affect your mouth and teeth. The weak autoimmune response allows the wrong kind of bacteria to grow in your mouth.
Why Dental Care Is Important
People who have an autoimmune disorder will typically have dental diseases – gingivitis and periodontitis. Because their immune systems are suppressed, this enables bacteria in the mouth to multiply and it also increases the likelihood of infections.
When the bacteria increase, it produces an acid that will weaken and destroy the enamel on the teeth. This is largely what it does in the early stages. Your gums will likely bleed when you brush them and floss, which is a symptom of gum disease.
Later on, the bacteria will spread to the gums. Inflammation will set in, and pockets will form between the gums and the teeth. Pus will likely be seen at the gum line. The bacteria are forming colonies in those pockets, and this leads to more serious damage. The acid destroys your gums, the tissues supporting your teeth, and the jawbone. This causes your teeth to become loose and eventually fall out.
A number of diseases, such as Sjögren’s Syndrome, greatly reduces the amount of saliva produced. Nearly all people with Sjögren’s Syndrome are women over 50, and it is very common. It often accompanies other immune disorders. As a result of this disorder that affects the glands, little or no saliva is produced, and other glands are also affected – such as the tear ducts. This is harmful to your mouth because saliva is needed to help control the bad bacteria that cause gum disease. It can also lead to a yeast infection in the mouth (candidiasis).
Along with dry mouth, a patient may have a number of other symptoms. This may include a sore throat, problems chewing and swallowing food, a burning feeling in your mouth, difficulty wearing dentures, and more.
A number of other common autoimmune diseases can also cause dry mouth syndrome, including diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, high blood pressure, endocrine disorders, cystic fibrosis, and more. Other problems can also cause dry mouth, including stress, not drinking enough water, breathing through the mouth, smoking, and alcohol. Many medications can also cause the problem, but changing them may correct this problem.
- Crohn’s Disease
This disease can produce a great of discomfort in the mouth. It produces swelling of the lips and gums and ulcers in the mouth.
Lupus typically affects young women, but both sexes can get the disorder. It damages the joints, skin, and kidneys. In the mouth, it will cause mouth ulcers, but these may not be painful.
This thickening of the skin usually affects people in their 20’s and 30’s. It mostly affects the scalp, knees, and elbows, but can cause oral lesions on the tongue, lips, gums, and palate.
- Oral Lichen Planus
Not much is known about oral lichen planus, except that it may be caused by an autoimmune disorder. It is an inflammatory condition that occurs as white lacy patches on the mucous membranes in your mouth. It can be painful and needs to be watched because it can lead to mouth cancer.
Why Autoimmune Conditions Can Be Serious
Autoimmune conditions have their own set of problems. Beyond those problems, however, there is another major concern. When you have a gum infection, this means there is inflammation. Inflammation has now been proven to be behind many major disease conditions – and many of them are life-threatening.
There are more than 50 diseases now known to be caused by inflammation. Among them are a hardening of the arteries, coronary heart disease, diabetes, heart attack, and stroke. Several types of cancer are also on the list, as well as Alzheimer’s, rheumatoid arthritis, COPD, and many more. This should make ensuring your oral health a priority.
Get More Dental Exams
When you have an autoimmune disorder, it is very important to keep an eye on what is happening in your mouth. The best way to do this is to see a dentist more often. Making dentist appointments about every three months are important to reduce the potential damage to your gums and teeth. This would enable faster treatment and correction of problems – helping you keep your teeth longer and in better health.
Common autoimmune diseases can wreak havoc on your teeth and gums. Dentists such as Dr. Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS, a Board-certified periodontist, can help you identify and treat dental problems as they occur. He has dental offices in the Carrollton, Dallas, Cedar Hill and Grapevine, TX areas. To make an appointment, or to learn more about his dental services, call his office today at (214) 731-0123.