About Lupus

Jessica’s Coping with Lupus Corner

Lupus and Oral Care

Jessica Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Jessica, Rowshandel, M.S.W.
Director of Social Services
S.L.E. Lupus Foundation

Always Learning About Lupus

Every year, our five-borough Hospital Tour is one of the most popular events, bringing experts in lupus care to speak directly to patients about topics of common interest. This year’s Tour will make two more stops that we urge you to hop on. And if you cannot make it in person, we have summaries of the presentations and later this year will have videotapes of each program up on our websites.

I learned so much at my first Hospital Tour Annual Lupus Patient-Education Series a couple of years ago that I want to share—information that is just as helpful today as the night it was presented.  Here is what I learned from one of those stops  about basic dental care.

Common Lupus Challenge: Caring for Your Mouth

In the lupus community, there is a lot of focus on the damage the disease can do to major organs such as the kidneys, lungs, and heart. These are all very important.

But having lupus can also affect the health of your mouth—which can in turn affect your overall health, your physical comfort, and your feelings about your appearance. For example, did you know that as much as a quarter of people with lupus have oral sores? These sores—often painless—can appear on the roof of the mouth, the lips, and the gums.

And medicines taken for lupus, such as corticosteroids (steroids), can cause problems such as dryness in the mouth, swelling, cold sores, yeast infections, and damage to bones that help the mouth function correctly (such as the jaw bone)?

Don’t panic. Thankfully, there are many steps that you can take to keep your mouth healthy!

Spark a Friendship Between Your Dentist and Rheumatologist

(Or at least put them in touch with each other!)

It’s very important to tell the dentist that you have lupus. Provide him or her with your rheumatologist’s phone number to encourage contact between the two; the dentist should have a history of your condition and an idea of how lupus has uniquely affected you.

The dentist should also find out if you have had oral sores in the past, and get a list of the medicines, vitamins, and dietary supplements that you take. Knowing your medical history can help make sure that cleanings and other dental work are done in a safe and effective way.

Regular Care, Regular Visits

Keeping your mouth healthy means taking the same steps you take daily to keep lupus under control. Dentists will agree with your rheumatologist’s suggestions to: avoid direct sunlight, get enough sleep, keep stress levels low, take prescribed medicines, and so on.

Also do what you can to avoid dryness in the mouth, which can both be unpleasant as well as raise the real risk of getting more cavities, causing gum damage, and leading to dentures and fillings falling out. To keep your mouth moist:

  • try drinking 8 to 10 glasses of water or more a day
  • spray a mix of water and a little mouthwash into your mouth regularly
  • avoid overly salty foods, tobacco, caffeine, alcohol, and other things that might dehydrate you.

Finally, get your teeth cleaned regularly—see your dentist more often than you otherwise might. Many recommend visiting every three months rather than every six.

Smile Bright!

Stay alert to the important link between dentist and rheumatologist, and between you and your dentist—and smile bright knowing you have the right tools and information to take good care of your mouth!

Visit our website for other simple suggestions, print brochures, catch up on our past webinars to learn more about lupus and share the information on your social media pages.

Update: We are no longer accepting comments on our site, but please share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

Ask Jessica!

Disclaimer: This website and its contents are designed for educational purposes only. Jessica Rowshandel, MSW is the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation’s Director of Social Services. She is not a physician. The advice provided is for educational and informational purposes and the Foundation does not recommend or endorse any particular treatment or therapy. The information provided here should not be used for the purposes of diagnosing or treating a medical or psychiatric illness. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional care. Lupus is a very individualized illness; consult a healthcare professional before making any decisions about your care. If you have or suspect you may have a health problem, you should consult your health care provider. Telephone calls, emails, and online content do not constitute counseling services in any way. The S.L.E. Lupus Foundation does not provide any medical or psychological services to its patients and users. For an accurate medical or mental health evaluation, participants should seek an evaluation from a qualified healthcare professional. S.L.E. Lupus Foundation employees, consultants, and agents shall not be liable for any claims or damages, and expressly disclaim all liability of any nature for any action or non-action taken as a result of the information generated by the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation programs and its website, as well as the S.L.E. Lupus Foundation Facebook and Twitter pages.