How Autoimmune Diseases Impact Dental Health

Autoimmune diseases can complicate dental health and dental care. Some autoimmune diseases—like lupus, Crohn’s disease, and Hashimoto’s thyroid disease—can cause sores in the mouth or difficulty swallowing without directly raising the risk of caries or gum disease. Other autoimmune conditions, like Sjogren’s syndrome or diabetes, significantly raise the risk of oral disease. In Sjogren’s syndrome, the body attacks the glands that make saliva, causing severe dry mouth. Robbed of the protective effects of saliva, teeth are at much greater risk of developing caries (cavities). Diabetes has been shown to raise the risk of gum disease and makes gum disease harder to treat when it becomes established. Dental professionals should be made aware of any chronic conditions, especially autoimmune diseases and dental problems, to enable them to provide the best care for their patients.

Autoimmune Diseases That Can Increase Risk of Mouth Sores

  • Crohn’s disease, a disease of the digestive tract
  • Lupus, a systemic disease
  • Psoriasis, a skin disease that rarely causes mouth sores
  • Celiac disease, a digestive disease

Autoimmune Diseases That Can Increase Risk of Caries or Gum Disease

  • Sjogren’s syndrome, a disease where the body attacks salivary glands and tear ducts, increasing caries risk through dry mouth
  • Type 1 diabetes, a disease where the body attacks the pancreas, making blood sugar regulation difficult, increasing the incidence of gum disease and making it harder to treat
  • Celiac disease, a digestive disease where the body cannot process gluten, is associated with poorly formed enamel and increased caries risk

Common Questions About Autoimmune Diseases:

Does lupus have an increased cavity risk?

While it does increase the risk of sores in the mouth, lupus does not appear to increase cavity risk.

Does dental care improve autoimmune diseases?

Dental care does not necessarily change the progression of the autoimmune disease, but it can alleviate symptoms caused by the immune disease in the mouth. Avoiding the inflammation that accompanies periodontal disease is also doubly important for patients with chronic inflammation from an autoimmune disease.

What helps reduce caries risk in patients with Sjogren’s syndrome?

Patients with Sjogren’s syndrome need to treat dry mouth carefully and routinely with appropriate saliva substitutes to reduce the damage done to teeth deprived of saliva’s protective benefits.

CariFree Products to Prevent Decay

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How CariFree is Different

CariFree products can help interrupt the disease process a number of ways, preventing cavities from ever forming. The unique pH correcting formula of CariFree products helps make the oral environment unfavorable for acid-loving, caries-causing bacteria. The high pH from the CariFree system also protects tooth enamel from having minerals dissolved away in acidic conditions. The products contain nano hydroxyapatite, which the teeth can use to repair missing minerals from the enamel, particularly in the high pH environment the products create. Xylitol, a natural, non-nutritive sweetener, has several dental benefits. It makes bacteria less able to stick together in a tough to remove biofilm. Caries-causing bacteria also eat the xylitol but cannot use it for energy or to reproduce. So, the bacteria starve to death while eating xylitol.

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