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Get the Facts: Autoimmune Diseases & Your Oral Health

February 17, 2024

Filed under: Uncategorized — westlakehills @ 1:50 pm

Words related to autoimmune diseasesYou might have heard that your oral health and overall wellness are connected. Researchers have linked various dental problems to an increased risk of certain health issues, like heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes. However, a new study has found a link between autoimmune diseases and dental health. Here’s what you need to know to keep your mouth and body healthy.

Understanding Autoimmune Diseases

Your immune system is your defense system against illnesses and infections. Unfortunately, your immune system may attack healthy cells and tissues, resulting in autoimmune diseases. If immune cells mistakenly attack those they are meant to protect, it can lead to autoimmune diseases, like diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, or lupus. 

Autoimmune Disorders and Dental Health

24 million people suffer from more than 100 autoimmune disorders. With oral health linked to systemic health, certain dental problems can manifest from autoimmune diseases. Oral symptoms of common autoimmune diseases can include:

  • Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE): SLE is a condition that causes chronic inflammation in the organs and organ systems, including the brain, skin, and blood vessels. It can also cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease, and oral discoid lesions.
  • Sjogren Syndrome: The systemic autoimmune disorder causes a variety of symptoms, like chronic pain, dryness, and fatigue. It can also affect the salivary glands, resulting in a dry mouth that can increase your risk of halitosis, cavities, and gum disease.
  • Pemphigus: The rare autoimmune disease causes blisters of the skin and mucous membranes, which can appear in the mouth and esophagus. They can be painful and make it difficult to chew or swallow.
  • Crohn’s Disease: The inflammatory bowel condition can cause swelling, sores, and redness in the mouth. It can even lead to painful oral lesions. 
  • Behcet Disease: The disease causes inflammation in your blood vessels, as well as raised round oral lesions that can turn into painful ulcers.
  • Oral Lichen Planus: The oral autoimmune disease attacks the mucous membranes inside of your mouth, creating lacy white patches. 

Regular dental care is more important than ever before if you have autoimmune disorders. Your dentist will create a personalized treatment plan to promote your oral health. They may even spot symptoms of an undiagnosed autoimmune disease during semi-annual dental appointments. You can support a healthy mouth and body by visiting your dentist every 6 months for a cleaning and checkup. 

About Dr. Rebecca Long

Dr. Long achieved her dental degree at the Chicago College of Dentistry and has continued her training in various specialties, including cosmetic dentistry and general dentistry. She is a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and the Academy of General Dentistry. Request an appointment through her website or call her office at (512) 856-1886.

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