The dental profession has long addressed the problem of “dry mouth” – reduced salivary function – that afflicts a large part of the population as we age. And most people are aware there are ways to counteract the side effects of difficult swallowing and loss of taste.
Well, a systemic disorder called Sjorgren’s syndrome makes dry mouth seem like a minor irritation. One million people in North America, mostly women, suffer the syndrome. Its indications – similar to dry mouth – include: eating, speaking, swallowing problems; a marked increase in cavities; and oral fungus infections. It’s as if the salivary glands have simply shut down altogether. Often the tear duct glands are affected, too, leading to dry eyes.
We don’t yet know what causes Sjogren’s, but we can make you more comfortable and reduce risks to your dental hygiene. Current treatment may indicate anti-inflmamatory medications, and artificial salivas offer some degree of relief. Contact these national associations for more information.
Sjogren’s Syndrome Foundation, Inc.
382 Main Street
Port Washington, NY 11050
National Sjogren’s Syndrome Assn.
3201 W. Evans Dr.
Phoenix, AZ 85023