Lupus and oral dryness-xerostomia

Do you have a dry mouth or difficulty swallowing? Does your mouth feel like it’s been stuffed with cotton balls and you can barely speak? If so, I’ll guess that you don’t stray far from home without a water bottle.

Normally, saliva constantly bathes the teeth, ridding it of food particles and preventing bacteria from lodging in dental plaque, taking up residence and thriving in the warm, dark, moist environment of the mouth.

Once bacteria take hold in the mouth, they cause cavities, bad breath, gingivitis, result in abscesses; this can result in the need for expensive dental work.

Unfortunately, autoimmune diseases often target the mucous membranes and salivary glands, decreasing saliva production. When this happens, bacteria thrive and mucous membranes become very tender, easily torn, and extremely sensitive. Also, in the absence of adequate saliva, plaque forms, builds up and harbors bacteria making dental caries common, even with the best oral hygiene.

Other oral complications from lupus might be bleeding gums, gingivitis, and some patients get oral thrush. About 95% of lupus patients have a dry mouth, xerostomia; requiring that ‘lupies’ pay close attention to dental care, including regular brushing with a soft toothbrush and flossing and regular dental check-ups.

Also, because of the dark, warm environment of a dry mouth, painful infections can develop in salivary glands (usually the parotid glands) and your appearance is much like a chipmunk that has over-stuffed for the winterPainful sores can develop in the dry mouth. Lips tend to be very dry, crack easily; and the dryness is not helped very much by an increase in drinking water. Lip balms are a constant companion in your purse, car; everywhere!

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11 thoughts on “Lupus and oral dryness-xerostomia

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