SjÃ¶grenâs (pronounced SHOW-grins) syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder, in which the bodyâs immune system mistakenly attacks its own moisture-producing glands, the tear-secreting and salivary glands, as well as other organs. Symptoms include:
â¢ Dry eyes and dry mouth
â¢ Dysfunction of other organs, such as the kidneys, gastrointestinal system, blood vessels, lungs, liver, pancreas, and the central nervous system
â¢ Extreme fatigue and joint pain
SjÃ¶grenâs can affect virtually every racial and ethnic group; however, it is more common in women ages 40 to 50. According to the SjÃ¶grenâs Syndrome Foundation, nine out of 10 patients diagnosed with the disorder are women.
The cause of SjÃ¶grenâs syndrome is unknown. More than seven million people suffer from SjÃ¶grenâs in the west. This makes it one of the most common autoimmune disorders.
Due to the decreased flow of saliva, SjÃ¶grenâs can pose a serious treat to oral health. Saliva, or spit, plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy mouth. It also helps to:
â¢ Wash away food and debris from teeth and gums
â¢ Moisten and break down food to ease swallowing and enhances ability to taste
â¢ Provide disease-fighting substances throughout your mouth to help prevent cavities and other infections
â¢ Keep the surface of your teeth strong by providing high levels of calcium, fluoride and phosphate ions at the tooth surface.
Because the symptoms of SjÃ¶grenâs are similar to other conditions and diseases, it can be very hard to diagnose.
If you suffer from dry mouth, it is important to be proactive and discuss your treatment options with your dentist or physician.