Sjögren’s Syndrome and bad breath
What is Sjögren’s Syndrome?
It is a chronic disorder of the immune system, a long term autoimmune disease. This disease causes a person’s white blood cells to attack the saliva and tear glands. When this happens the person develops dry mouth and dry eyes because the production of saliva and tears are reduced. There could also be pain, aching muscles and stiffness in the joints.
What is an autoimmune disease?
It is a disease where healthy tissues and cells are mistakenly attacked by the body’s own immune system. Now the immune system is like the body’s own defence force. It attacks anything that it thinks will do the body harm (pathogens). The abnormal antibodies circulating in the blood of someone who has an autoimmune disease, attack healthy tissues thinking that they are harmful pathogens such as bacteria or infectious viruses.
Sjögren’s Syndrome is classified by doctors as either primary or secondary.
– Primary Sjögren’s Syndrome: the condition does not develop because of another condition, it is not the result of any other condition
– Secondary Sjögren’s Syndrome: this condition develops alongside another condition or because of another condition like lupus or rheumatoid arthritis
Sjögren’s Syndrome more commonly develops in people aged 40 and up, but it can develop at any age. What is really interesting is that 90% of patients are female. Symptoms generally subside after some time.
What are the symptoms and signs of Sjögren’s Syndrome?
So before we carry on let me clarify one thing first. A symptom is what patients’ sense and describe for example pain. A sign is something someone else spots, for example a doctor sees a rash.
Sjögren’s Syndrome has two common symptoms: Dry mouth and dry eyes. In some cases virginal dryness has also been reported. Other symptoms have been linked to dry eyes and dry mouth:
Dry mouth signs and symptoms
– Tooth decay and eventually tooth loss
– Constant dry cough
– Difficulty chewing
– Difficulty swallowing
– A hoarse voice
– Some people might find it difficult to speak
– Salivary glands swell
– Persistent oral thrush (fungal infection in the mouth)
Dry eyes signs and symptoms
– A sensation as if there is sand in the eyes
– The eyes not only become tired they also start looking tired
– The eyes will start to itch
– The eyes will discharge mucous
– The eyes will be extremely sensitive to light
– The eyes will sting or burn
– The eyelids will swell
– The eyelids will be extremely irritated
The symptoms will be aggravated by air-conditioned, windy and even smoky environments. Symptoms will worsen with airplane travel.
In some cases the immune system even attacked other parts of the body. When that happens the following signs and symptoms occur:
– General tiredness
– The muscles will ache
– The joints become inflamed, stiff and painful
– The arms and legs will sometimes be numb or painful
– The hands might feel cold, numb and painful
– Blood vessels can become inflamed
What are the consequences of saliva gland atrophy?
If there is not a sufficient flow of saliva in the mouth, tooth decay and gum disease is expedited due to increased anaerobic bacteria. Saliva is very important and has all the necessary proteins and minerals to prevent destructive sulphurous bacteria from covering the inside of the mouth, tooth enamel, the tongue and also the back of the throat.
When saliva cleans teeth, beneficial proteins are imparted that form a protective layer called salivary pellicle. As the anaerobic bacteria cannot adhere to the tooth’s surface because of the salivary pellicle, the bacteria either die off or find a place somewhere else in the mouth.
Is there any treatment for Sjögren’s Syndrome?
There is no cure for Sjögren’s Syndrome, but to relieve the symptoms of the dry mouth and dry eyes topical products such as saliva and tear substitutes are used to alleviate the dryness. Some patients are given a chemical called pilocarpine hydrochloride that help to stimulate the salivary secretions. Some patients use local estrogens which help to bring relief to severe dry skin.
Preventative dental care
People suffering from Sjögren’s Syndrome are advised to visit there dentists at least every three to six months. This is necessary to prevent serious dental problems and to reduce the intense bad breath that occurs because of chronic xerostomia. Depending on the severity of the glandular atrophy and the lack of saliva flow, the amount of cleanings can vary.
People suffering from Sjögren’s Syndrome can improve their oral health and eliminate a dry mouth by using products such as those created by Dr Harold Katz. His line of products contains natural, oxygenating ingredients specifically designed to stimulate saliva flow and to eliminate bad breath at the same time. The line of Therabreath products by Dr Katz include oral rinse, toothpaste, throat spray, AktivOxigen serum and sugar free gum.
In addition to the above products mandarin mint lozenges were specially formulated to specifically help people who suffer with severe bad breath because of dry mouth. Therabreath mandarin lozenges have been designed to work in three stages. They eliminate bad breath, they kill the anaerobic bacteria that cause bad breath and they provide proprietary salivary compounds that assist in replacing the lost saliva due to the dysfunctional salivary glands.
No other lozenges on the market have the powerful combinations of xylitol, zinc gluconate, rebiana and sorbitol. By sucking two or three of these lozenges a day it will help ease the symptoms of xerostomia that are associated with Sjögren’s Syndrome. They will also help to further reduce the chances of experiencing mouth and teeth diseases and chronic halitosis.