Dentistry: More Than Just Teeth
By Celia Mimms, DDS
Taking care of one’s mouth and teeth is critical for lupus patients. Adding the dentist to your list of care providers could help you save your teeth and gums, as well as your life.
Not only are dentists trained to provide care for tooth and gum related issues, their education also includes the mouth, temporomandibular joint (TMJ or jaw bone joints), neck, and surrounding skin. In recent years there has been an increase in the discovery of lesions within the mouth whether benign or malignant. It is important to note that lupus patients can be predisposed to oral and facial lesions. Patients diagnosed with Discoid Lupus Erythematosus may have small (less than 1 cm), red lesions that may or may not have pain above the neck or on the oral mucosa. Also some medications, which are prescribed to treat lupus, may induce non-lupus related lesions or even precancerous lesions due to suppression of the immune system. Your dentist could be a vital resource in early detection and accurate diagnosis.
There are a few tips that may help your dentist and you work together to provide the best treatment.
Schedule regular visits to the dentist for an exam and cleaning, even if teeth are not present. The dentist examines your overall health with more emphasis on the head and neck. Regular visits ensure good oral health, but also help the dentist create a baseline of what is “normal” for your mouth and surrounding tissues.
Be open about your disease. Most dental offices have a written health history, but a verbal conversation about your concerns helps as well. When discussing your health, include all diseases, allergies, and medications. The more aware the dentist is of your symptoms and current health condition, the better your needs can be addressed.
Open wide and take a look yourself. Just like self-exams for skin and breast, you may detect something abnormal. In that event contact your dentist.
Attend the Bartlett Support Group Meeting on Saturday, April 13, 2013 to learn about other correlations of lupus and dentistry.
If you have a topic you would like included in the next issues that is dental related, please submit questions to the Lupus Society of Illinois (LSI) here.
Lupus Society of Illinois
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