Sjogren's Syndrome is a chronic autoimmune disorder in which the glands that produce tears and saliva do not function correctly. As a result, poor salivary production causes dry mouth and lack of tears causes dry eyes. When the symptoms become more severe, mouth dryness (xerostomia) may feel like a burning or cracking tongue, may result in an increased rate of dental decay, and difficulty swallowing. It becomes necessary to sip fluids often both with and between meals. The parotid glands (major salivary glands behind the jaw) may become swollen and painful. Eye involvement is the other major manifestation. The decreased tearing causes redness, itching, photosensitivity and a sandy or gritty feeling in the eyes. There can also be a decrease in mucous gland secretion of the respiratory and gastrointestinal tracts. One-third of patients can have symptoms outside the glands, effecting joints, muscles, lungs and kidneys. Treatment attempts to relieve the effects of chronic dryness of the mouth and eyes by increasing the lubrication and moisturization of the affected tissues. Artificial tears and saliva substitutes have been used. Medications are prescribed for extraglandular symptoms. The overall disease course of Sjogren's syndrome requires regular monitoring by a prosthodontist in conjunction with a physician.
Robert G. Tupac, DDS, FACP, Inc., Diplomate, American Board of Prosthodontics (661) 325-1275 | www.drtupac.com 5060 California Ave., #170, Bakersfield, CA 93309