Lupus Got Ya Thirsty?

Or: SOMETHING’S GOT YOU THIRSTY! There are many reasons for a dry mouth, but the following is often the scenario with a lupus-caused or Sjogren’s Syndrome-caused dry mouth:

Your mouth is always parched and going anywhere without a bottle of water is simply out of the question. At times you sound drunk; but, at 8AM? Could this be related to lupus and, if so, is there anything to do about it?

Many people with lupus develop a dry mouth. Why? Remember the antibodies of patients with autoimmune diseases that mistake the body’s tissues for foreign tissues and attack them? When they attack the mouth, the salivary glands in and around the mouth produce less saliva, really minimizing the salivary glands’ ability to produce ANY saliva. This happens almost all the time in Sjogren’s Syndrome (in fact, mucosal dryness is a hallmark of Sjogren’s Syndrome), but dryness is not unheard of  in lupus.

Saliva flow can be greatly decreased in lupus, Sjogren’s Syndrome and in other autoimmune diseases, sometimes to the point where it is nearly non-existent. If saliva flow is decreased, food particles aren’t continuously washed away (by that saliva), bacteria hide and thrive in the mouth’s warm, dark environment. Cavities develop, in fact you can lose teeth from lupus or Sjogren’s Syndrome. You may have dry, chapped lips, too. The tongue can be quite tender, so tender that even that very mildest of salsa is too hot!

Unfortunately, serious complications can result from a dry mouth; conditions other than someone thinking you’re drunk at 8 AM! Painful chronic infections of the parotid glands can develop when there is so much mucosal dryness that the normal cleansing mechanisms are disturbed and drainage from the parotid glands into the mouth becomes blocked. Tooth loss is another serious complication. Normally, saliva is alkaline and balances the acid in the stomach and esophagus. Gum disease and periodontal disease are increased in

With decreased saliva, the acid/base balance is interrupted and acid-reflux can develop. Another complication that may arise besides the seriousness of cavities or periodontal disease and parotitis is the possibility that the parotid glands become infected so often that they need to be removed; this can be real risky surgery because the trigeminal nerve can become involved

So, what can you do, when, in spite of frequent dental check ups, regular brushing and flossing you still develop cavities? Talk with your dentist and have a check up at least every 6 months to watch for gum disease. Your teeth are not just cosmetic, they aid in digestion, so do as much as possible to keep your teeth and gums healthy.

Also, don’t throw away that water bottle just yet! Just rinsing your mouth periodically helps keeps it clean in between meals. Brush several times a day with a soft toothbrush and floss at least once a day.

Your doctor or dentist may order prescription medications to stimulate saliva production and your pharmacist can help you find over-the-counter products that help stimulate saliva production and  relieving dry mouth. You can also suck on hard lemon candies, but remember that any product that you use should be alcohol-free and sugar-free.

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18 Replies to “Lupus Got Ya Thirsty?”

  1. Once oral bacteria enter the body, they may cause inflammation, which in combination with fat deposits can lead to a build up of plaque clogging blood flow and to a build up of blood platelets causing blood clots.

    1. That\’s why many dentists want oral premed before any dental procedure. If SBE doesn\’t kill, it\’s no fun and can do permanent damage.

  2. A few years ago northern Ireland researchers at the University of Ulster did a study that tested fish oil, rich in omega-3 fatty acids on 50 or more lupus patients.

    After a period of 24 weeks, researchers found a significant decline in disease measurements for those taking fish oil compared to a placebo.

    1. I'll have to look into that and if you don't mind, use it as the topic for a future post; or, if you'd like, I take guest posts and would love someone to post about something he knows; or di you read this in the newspaper? I think not because your moniker is FSP Health. I'm sorry to be getting back to you so late, but I've been out of town from the 8th until last night.

    1. Jonathan (my cousin is named Jonathan and HATES when I call him 'Jon'). Which do you prefer. Thanks for the article information and the abstract. Back at you! Annie

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