Caring for Your Mouth When You Have Lupus
Lupus is an immune system disease that can affect many parts of the body, including the mouth. If you have lupus, there are things you can do to keep your mouth healthy.1,3
Lupus causes the immune system to attack healthy tissue in the body. Most people with lupus are women.1 There are many symptoms of lupus, including:
Lupus can affect your salivary glands and cause dry mouth.4 Dry mouth can increase the risk of developing cavities and other infections.5 If you have lupus, be sure to tell your dentist. Together, you can keep your mouth healthy.2
Risks of Medication
People with lupus may take medicine that can increase their risk for some oral health problems. For example, drugs that suppress the immune system can raise the risk for oral cancer.3
White or red patches in the mouth can also be a sign of thrush, another side effect of lupus medicines. These patches, caused by a fungal infection, can cause burning and trouble swallowing. Thrush can be controlled with medication. Your dentist can check for signs of oral cancer and thrush, such as red or white patches inside the cheeks or on the tongue.3
1 “Fast Facts About Lupus.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, October 2009. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/lupus_ff.asp. Accessed 2009.
2 “Handout on Health: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus.” National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases, National Institutes of Health, April 2009. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/default.asp. Accessed 2009.
3 “Oral Disease.” Lupus Foundation of America. www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/lupus_ff.asp. Accessed 2009.
4 “Sjögren's Syndrome and Lupus.” Lupus Foundation of America. http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_aboutaffects.aspx?articleid=104&zoneid=17. Accessed 2010.
5 “Dry Mouth.” National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, National Institutes of Health, June 2009. http://www.nidcr.nih.gov/OralHealth/Topics/DryMouth/DryMouth.htm Accessed 2010.