How Lupus Affects Oral Health

If you suffer from lupus, your dental health could be at risk. At Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry, we’ve witnessed a definite link between lupus and oral health. Because lupus is an inflammatory condition, it can complicate dental conditions like gum disease. 

What Is Lupus?

Lupus is a disease that causes your body’s immune system to attack your own tissues. The inflammation caused by this autoimmune disease can affect your joints, skin, kidneys, blood cells, brain, heart and lungs.

The symptoms of lupus will depend on which body systems are being affected. Some of the most common signs of lupus include:

  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Joint pain, stiffness, and swelling
  • A butterfly-shaped rash on the face that covers the cheeks and the bridge of the nose, or rashes elsewhere on the body
  • Skin lesions that appear or worsen with sun exposure
  • Fingers and toes that turn white or blue when exposed to cold, or during stressful periods
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain
  • Dry eyes
  • Headaches, confusion, and memory loss

How Lupus Affects Your Oral and General Health

Due to the inflammatory nature of the disease, lupus can affect your dental health. Inflammation causes gum disease, the number one source of tooth decay and oral infections. Dental diseases, in turn, can affect your health in the following ways:

  • Bacteria from the gums can enter the saliva and potentially be inhaled into the lungs, causing pneumonia or pulmonary infection.
  • Mouth bacteria can enter the circulatory system through the gums and travel throughout the body, causing additional infection. 
  • Inflammation associated with gum disease may stimulate inflammation in other parts of the body or complicate existing diseases.

At Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry, we offer diode laser therapy for gum health.This non-invasive treatment kills the harmful bacteria in your mouth and helps to heal damaged gum tissue. The laser penetrates deep below the gumline to seek and destroy the bacteria that cause infections and inflammation.  Laser therapy is quick, effective, and completely painless. 

Dental Complications from Lupus

Periodontal Disease

Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease damages the soft tissue and bones that support your teeth. Inflammation can make your gums pull away from your teeth, leaving them vulnerable to plaque and the acid attacks that cause cavities. 

Signs of periodontitis can include:

  • Swollen or puffy gums
  • Bright red, dusky red, or purplish gums
  • Gums that feel tender when touched
  • Gums that bleed easily
  • Pink-tinged toothbrush after brushing
  • Spitting out blood when brushing or flossing your teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Pus between your teeth and gums
  • Loose teeth or loss of teeth
  • Painful chewing
  • New spaces developing between your teeth
  • Receding gums that pull away from your teeth, making them look longer than normal
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when you bite

Sjogren’s Syndrome

Sjogren’s Syndrome is a disorder that decreases the amount of moisture in your eyes and mouth. About half of the time it occurs along with another autoimmune disease like lupus.

While many patients experience dry eyes, dry mouth, fatigue and joint pain, Sjogren’s Syndrome can also cause dysfunction of organs such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system. 

To reach a diagnosis, we can perform a salivary flow test to measure the amount of saliva you produce, or a salivary gland biopsy. 

We recommend that patients with lupus use fluoride rinses at least three times a day to prevent dry mouth. By maintaining a consistent brushing and flossing schedule, while remaining vigilant of any plaque that may form in your gum line, you can stay ahead of Sjogren’s Syndrome. 

Dental Treatment for Lupus

Scheduling frequent dentist appointments for professional cleaning and laser therapy can help prevent complications from lupus. Mettler and Griego Family Dentistry in Peoria specializes in diagnosing and treating periodontal diseases. If you have lupus, we can help! Contact us to make an appointment today.

Photo by Kassidy Sherburne on Unsplash