People with Lupus Exhibit Increased Need for Dental Management
In a recent literature review, researchers discovered that people with lupus are more at risk of compromised oral and dental health, with an increased risk of periodontal (gum) diseases and temporo-mandibular (jaw) joint (TMJ) disorders. Additionally, immunosuppressive and anticoagulant drugs used to treat lupus may also influence oral management for those with the disease.
- Oral lesions occur in more than 40% of people with lupus, impacting oral health-related quality of life. In some cases, non-treatment of oral ulcers carry an increased risk for development of cancer. Development of herpes zoster is also possible.
- Tooth decay was present in 100% of people with active lupus disease and 85% of people with inactive lupus – possibly due to reduced salivary flow or dry mouth, a common development of lupus. People with lupus exhibit more tooth loss than healthy population.
- TMJ was often found within the first years of lupus disease and less frequent later.
- Treatment-related adverse effects (missing teeth, advanced tooth decay, poor bone quality/quantity and medication side effects) were found to compromise oral health, with increased risk of oral infection.
- Regular oral exams are important but may present special challenges. People with lupus have a high risk of metal delayed-type hypersensitivity, including nickel, gold and mercury, often present in dental materials. Use of fluorescent light, such as surgical lighting, can also cause flares due to photosensitivity, which is common in lupus.
Lupus can affect any system of the body, including the mouth. Regular oral examination and preventive dental care and monitoring by specialists is essential. A multidisciplinary approach to care and treatment that includes dental and medical management is important for people with lupus. A dentist should be part of the care team. Learn more about oral health issues with lupus.