Lupus and Gum Disease
What is Lupus?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that your immune system attacks itself and your healthy cells. It causes inflammation that affects several areas of the body. Lupus has many symptoms, but it has a surprising connection to gum disease.
Lupus symptoms include:
- Joint pain
- Skin rashes
- Cracked lips
- Gum disease
- Lichen planus
- Swollen glands
- Dry mouth
- Sjogren’s syndrome
To treat lupus your doctor will prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs, Immunosuppressants, Corticosteroids, or other medications. People who suffer from lupus can get oral lesions or ulcers. The medications can also cause issues with the salivary gland leading to dry mouth. These symptoms can cause gingivitis.
Lupus is Linked to Gum Disease
Gingivitis is the first stage of gum disease which causes redness, tenderness, bleeding, and inflammation in the gums. It is caused by the bacteria that feasts on the plaque that accumulates on our teeth. This bacteria causes decay to the teeth and irritates the gums. In its early stages, gingivitis is reversible with scaling and root planing treatment. Without treatment from your dentist, it can lead to gum disease. Gum disease is an infection in the gums that causes your teeth to loosen or fall out completely. An infection in the mouth can spread to other areas of the body and your compromised immune system won't be able to fight it effectively. The infection then complicates any preexisting diseases or conditions including lupus.
Lupus puts you at a higher risk of gum disease and infection, and so do the medications prescribed to treat it. Along with dry mouth, infection is a common side effect of the medications. This connection goes both ways because there are studies that indicate gum disease leading to or advancing lupus. According to Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology, plaque-based bacteria in the mouth affects lupus symptoms because it affects the immune system. Patients that had gum disease showed more lupus activity.
The Importance of Preventive Care
The link between gum disease and lupus emphasizes your oral health. Because your oral hygiene can affect lupus, you can start by brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day. Regular fluoride treatments can help with dry mouth. Preventive care from your dentist can help you treat decay before it advances to gingivitis or gum disease. Regular dental checkups and routine cleaning are also key for monitoring your oral health to catch problems early on. Your dentist could even be the first person to notice signs of lupus leading to a diagnosis. Maintaining excellent oral hygiene with the help of your dental team not only prevents gum disease but could also potentially prevent worsening lupus symptoms.
This newsletter/website is not intended to replace the services of a doctor. It does not constitute a doctor-patient relationship. Information in this newsletter/website is for informational purposes only & is not a substitute for professional advice. Please do not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating any condition.