Your immune system is supposed to defend your body against bacteria, viruses, and other threats, but if you have an autoimmune condition, your immune system sees your healthy tissues as a threat. As your immune system attacks your own body, it causes a wide variety of symptoms, some of them in your mouth. Here are six autoimmune conditions that can have serious effects on your oral health.
Scleroderma makes your skin and connective tissues harden and tighten, but it also harms other structures like your blood vessels. These problems cause symptoms throughout your body, but also in your mouth. As your salivary glands thicken, they won't produce as much saliva, and you'll suffer from chronic dry mouth. Dry mouth is a precursor to other dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease. The tissues around your jaw can also thicken, which happens in about 70% of people with scleroderma, and makes it hard for you to open your mouth.
Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that leads to digestive problems like diarrhea and malnutrition, but it can also cause problems at the very beginning of your digestive system: your mouth. This disease can cause ulcers inside your mouth, which can in turn cause dramatic swelling of your cheeks and lips. It can also cause an overgrowth of gum tissue, which makes it hard for you to clean your teeth properly.
Sjogren's syndrome is a disease that occurs when your immune system attacks the fluid-producing glands throughout your body. You have many of these glands throughout your body, and about 1000 of them are responsible for making saliva. When these glands don't work properly, the result is chronic dry mouth. Chronic dry mouth is uncomfortable, but it also makes you more likely to have tooth decay or gum disease. People with this condition may also suffer from mouth infections.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease that affects the collagen throughout your whole body. Collagen is present in lots of tissues inside your mouth, like the insides of your cheeks, your gum tissue, and your salivary glands. When this collagen is attacked, you'll notice symptoms inside your mouth like dry mouth or gum disease. People with lupus may also develop candidiasis, an overgrowth of yeast inside the mouth. Lupus is also associated with leukoplakic lesions, which are white patches that appear inside your mouth and can't be wiped away.
Pemphigus vulgaris occurs when your immune system attacks your skin and your mucus membranes, causing blisters and sores. The insides of your cheeks are mucous membranes, so they're not safe from this disease. You'll develop painful sores inside your mouth, and these sores may drain or ooze into your mouth. Aside from the obvious discomfort that this causes, the sores can become infected, and if not treated, the infection can spread to surrounding tissues.
Rheumatoid arthritis occurs when your immune system attacks your joints, leaving them painful and swollen. The disease can affect your jaw joint, making it hard for you to bite, chew, or even open your mouth. It can also cause more surprising symptoms, like chronic dry mouth, mouth ulcers, or an overgrowth of gum tissue. It also increases your risk of infections such as gum disease or infections after dental surgery.
Autoimmune diseases can have serious effects on your oral health, so if you suffer from one, make sure that your dentist knows about it. It's important that you dentist knows as much as possible about your situation so that they can choose the best treatments for you. If you are looking for a new dentist in your area, consider contacting a clinic like Dentistry On Vine.