Sjogren's Syndrome and Dry Mouth
Dry eyes is a common symptom of Sjogren's syndrome, and dry mouth is another. Because the lack of saliva that causes dry mouth can cause cavities and mouth infections, good oral hygiene is extremely important. Preventative measures for people with Sjorgren's syndrome and dry mouth include avoiding sugary foods, seeing a dentist three times a year, and using saliva substitutes.
A dry mouth is a common symptom of Sjogren's syndrome. Dry mouth feels like a mouth full of cotton. It's difficult to swallow, speak, and taste. Your sense of smell can change, and you may develop a dry cough. Also, because a person with Sjogren's syndrome lacks the protective effects of saliva, dry mouth increases the chances of developing cavities and mouth infections.
If your salivary glands still produce some saliva, you can stimulate them to make more by chewing gum or sucking on hard candy. However, gum and candy must be sugar-free, because dry mouth makes you extremely prone to cavities.
Take sips of water or another sugar-free drink often throughout the day to wet your mouth, especially when you are eating or talking. Note that you should take sips of water -- drinking large amounts of liquid throughout the day will not make your mouth any less dry. This will only make you urinate more often and may strip your mouth of mucus, causing even more dryness.
You can soothe dry, cracked lips by using oil- or petroleum-based lip balm or lipstick. If your mouth hurts, the doctor may give you medicine in a mouth rinse, ointment, or gel to apply to the sore areas to control pain and inflammation.
If you produce very little saliva or none at all, your doctor might recommend a saliva substitute. These products mimic some of the properties of saliva, which means they make the mouth feel wet, and if they contain fluoride, they can help prevent cavities. Gel-based saliva substitutes tend to give the longest relief, but all saliva products are limited since you eventually swallow them.
At least two drugs that stimulate the salivary glands to produce saliva are available. These are pilocarpine and cevimeline. The effects last for a few hours, and you can take them three or four times a day. However, they are not suitable for everyone, so ask our doctor if they might help you.
People with dry mouth can easily get mouth infections. Candidiasis, a fungal mouth infection, is one of the most commonly seen infections in people with Sjogren's syndrome. It most often shows up as white patches inside the mouth that you can scrape off, or as red, burning areas in the mouth. Candidiasis is treated with antifungal drugs. Various viruses and bacteria can also cause infections; they're treated with the appropriate antiviral or antibiotic medicines.