3 Ways Autoimmune Disease Can Cause Gum Disease, Cavities, And Jaw Problems

Posted on: 27 August 2018

If you have an autoimmune disease such as hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, lupus, or Sjogren's syndrome, then you may experience profound fatigue, muscle and joint pain, visual deficits, and intermittent fevers. In addition to these, you may also notice changes in your mouth. If you have an autoimmune disorder, make sure that you see your dentist regularly for routine examinations and treatment, if necessary. Here are three ways autoimmune disease can hurt your teeth, jaw, and gums and what you can do about them.

Dry Mouth

Certain autoimmune diseases can affect the tear ducts in your eyes and the salivary glands in your mouth. Because of this, those affected with these disorders can experience dry, gritty sensations in the eyes and an extremely dry mouth.

Autoimmune disorders, especially Sjögren syndrome, can cause malfunction of the salivary glands, and when this happens, you may be at risk for developing dental cavities and oral infections.

You need adequate amounts of saliva to help clear away infection-causing bacteria from your mouth, and when salivary flow is inhibited, germs can accumulate in your oral cavity. If you experience dry mouth as a result of your autoimmune condition, drink plenty of water to help keep your mouth from drying out.

Also, talk to your dentist because he or she can recommend a lubricating mouthwash to help hydrate your mouth so your risk for infection or cavities decreases. To further reduce your risk for dry mouth, avoid foods that are especially high in sodium content, and limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. 

Capillary Damage

Autoimmune disorders can also cause poor circulation and capillary damage. Not only can autoimmune conditions impair circulation in your legs and feet, it can also impeded circulation inside your mouth. This means that you may be more susceptible to bleeding gums, infection, and gum recession.

Your dentist will monitor the condition of your gums, however, it is important that you also visit your physician on a regular basis so he or she can monitor your condition and make adjustments in your treatment protocol as needed.

To further reduce your risk for oral capillary damage, avoid cigarette smoking because the toxins can further impair circulation, and may even contribute to dental decay and tooth loss. Also, if you have diabetes, maintain tight control over your blood sugar levels. Diabetes, especially diabetes that is poorly managed, can also contribute to poor circulation and capillary dysfunction. 

Bone Destruction

Another way autoimmune disorders may damage your oral cavity is through bone destruction. Rheumatoid arthritis is considered an autoimmune disorder, and while joint and bone destruction is often noticed on the hands and feet, your jaw bones and the bones that support your teeth can also be affected.

If you have rheumatoid arthritis, see your dentist for regular check-ups because it can raise your risk for loose teeth and gum recession. In addition to the disease itself, the medications you take to treat your condition can also cause problems inside your mouth. 

If you develop loose teeth, jaw pain, or difficulty opening your mouth, make an appointment with your physician, who can lower the dosage of your medication or prescribe a different drug that is less likely to cause dental problems. 

If you have an autoimmune disorder, work with both your dentist and endocrinologist to develop an effective treatment plan. When autoimmune-related problems are recognized and treated early on, you will be less likely to develop cavities, gum disease, dry mouth, and oral infections. Autoimmune disorders are progressive diseases, and while your doctors may be unable to reverse existing damage,  they may be able to slow the progression of further health and dental problems.