Excerpt from article Understanding the complexity of Sjogren’s syndrome

By Donna Herrera, RDH, BS, and Laura Thompson, RDH, BS

Dry eyes and dry mouth are symptoms of PBC. Many PBC patients also have Sjogrens Syndrome.

The dental team must look for decay, fillings that are loose, and swelling of the parotid gland. Immunological mechanisms have been suspected to have an important impact on periodontal disease. The immune dysfunction associated with Sjogren’s may affect the body’s defense against the microorganisms related to periodontal disease. Studies have shown patients with both Sjogren’s and periodontal disease present a higher total number of microorganisms.
Although there is no cure for Sjogren’s syndrome there are ways to treat it. A very important symptom to treat is xerostomia. Good oral hygiene is the key to the treatment of this disease along with using special toothpastes to decrease bacterial infection, special non-alcohol mouth rinse and topical fluoride.
The discomfort of the dry mouth causes many patients to drink large amounts of high sugar beverages. Patients should be advised to use sugar-free hard candy and gum to help relieve discomfort. A home remedy rinse that the patient can make also has shown to be useful. Mixing essence of lemon and citric acid in glycerin has provided relief for many hours. It is important to observe for changes in the parotid gland and periodontal tissues and to treat any significant finding quickly.
Research on Sjogren’s syndrome is ongoing, as scientists learn more about how the genes are involved and which environmental factors trigger this disease. Gene therapy studies involve molecules that are inserted into the salivary glands that will help control inflammation and prevent destruction. Other studies are being performed that might help immune and hormonal systems work in people who suffer from these conditions. Many drugs are being studied that will help in salivary stimulation for eyes and mouth.