Oral Health Symptoms That Can Indicate An Autoimmune Condition

29 July 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Blog


Autoimmune conditions occur when the body's natural defenses overreact and cause damage to healthy parts of the body. There are numerous autoimmune conditions, but a few in particular can present with oral health symptoms. If you have any of these symptoms and have been feeling generally unwell, visit both your dentist and general practitioner for diagnosis.

Frequent Infections and Decay

Do you have frequent periodontal infections and tooth cavities despite devotion to proper oral hygiene? There might be an underlying autoimmune condition that's causing your mouth to hold on to bacteria and/or slowing your ability to heal.

Diabetes is one of the most common causes for recurrent infections and cavities. Elevated blood sugar makes it harder for your body to heal, which can take its toll on your mouth and lead to additional symptoms such as swollen and bleeding gums.

HIV and AIDS can also cause recurrent dental issues. These conditions tend to also present with mouth sores and dryness. Make sure you make an appointment as soon as sores present to see if they're harmless canker sores or the sign of a systemic illness.

Swollen Glands

Sjögren's syndrome is an autoimmune system that targets the moisture-producing glands in the eyes and mouth. Do you have a perpetually dry mouth and/or feel swollen glands along your jaw or inner cheek? You might have this autoimmune condition.

The salivary glands in the cheek and jaw can become blocked, swollen, and/or infected. Blockages prevent saliva from exiting from the glands and into your mouth where the saliva helps wash away food particles, strengthen teeth, and aid with swallowing.

To treat this autoimmune dry mouth, your dentist might prescribe artificial saliva drops.

Swallowing Issues

Are you experiencing difficulties swallowing due to a tightness or soreness in your throat? If this occurs often, you could have an autoimmune condition.

Hashimoto's attacks the thyroid glands and slowly thwarts the production of important regulatory hormones. The attacks can cause swelling in the thyroid glands, which are located at the base of your throat. This swelling can then interfere with swallowing. Your doctor will confirm Hashimoto's through blood tests and prescribe levothyroxine to help manage the condition.

Swallowing issues can also stem from Crohn's disease, which impacts the entire gastrointestinal tract. Crohn's can cause oral ulcers and soft tissue swelling that make both chewing and swallowing more difficult. Your doctor will prescribe medication to help treat the symptoms and might suggest lifestyle changes to further assist your treatment.