Dental Care Concerns For Those With Autoimmune Diseases

When you're diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, the last person you probably think of calling is your dentist, but he or she is actually one of the most important phone calls you can make in this situation. Autoimmune disease can have a dramatic effect on your oral health, and you need to be proactive about your dental care to help minimize that damage. Here are some things that every autoimmune patient should know about how those conditions can lead to dental problems.

How Do Autoimmune Diseases Affect Dental Health?

To understand how an autoimmune disease affects your dental health, you need to understand the fundamentals of what autoimmune disorders are. They are so named because the body's own immune system starts to attack itself, viewing the body's own cells as foreign objects that are a threat. As the immune system naturally does with anything it views as a threat, it produces antibodies that will target your own body's cells, destroying them in the process.

What Kinds Of Dental Problems Can Arise?

Depending on the type of autoimmune condition you have, there are a number of different symptoms that you may experience affecting your dental health. Understanding what to watch for will help you to know when you should see your dentist.

Dry mouth is a serious problem in some cases. For patients with Sjogren's syndrome, for example, the autoimmune system will interfere with the function of the salivary glands, preventing or heavily restricting saliva production. The dry mouth condition is a nuisance of its own, but can actually lead to bacteria growth and cavities, as well as damage to the gums. You'll need routine dental visits and potentially a special mouthwash to help address the dry mouth condition.

Mouth ulcers can be a dangerous concern. Some autoimmune diseases cause severe inflammation, redness, swelling, and the development of ulcers in your mouth. Those ulcers risk infection, which can be a dangerous thing to deal with when you already have a compromised autoimmune system. Diseases like Crohn's disease and some forms of lupus are the most common autoimmune diseases to cause ulcers in the mouth. Be attentive to any kinds of sores in your mouth if you have a condition like this, and call your dentist right away for treatment if you develop one.

Trouble swallowing can also affect your dental health. Not only do you struggle with getting the nutrients you need when you can't swallow properly, it can also lead to residual bacteria and problems in your mouth because you're not able to rinse your mouth properly. Conditions like Hashimoto's disease, which leads to thyroid inflammation, can actually cause significant swelling in the face, neck, and thyroid. This can cause swallowing problems, and sometimes requires that you have your thyroid removed to clear the problems up.

Inflammation can cause gum tissue problems. One of the most common symptoms of any autoimmune condition is inflammation. It's the body's automatic response in many cases. That inflammation can cause problems with your gum tissue, like periodontitis. This can ultimately cause your gums to bleed and may even lead to tooth loss. Talk with your dentist if you're worried that inflammation is causing gum discomfort. He or she can help you determine how to treat it.

As you can see, there are many things that you should be attentive to when you have an autoimmune disease. Now that you understand how your autoimmune condition can affect your dental health, you are in a better position to address those things and minimize the long-term damage. Visit sites like to review your dental care options.