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What is the impact of lupus on the mouth?

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Lupus sometimes impacts the mouth directly by causing discoid lesions within it and can also cause chronic dry mouth when it manifests as Sjogren’s Syndrome, according to Hospital for Special Surgery. The medications taken for lupus can also cause changes to the mouth and make it vulnerable to infection.

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The discoid lesions caused directly by lupus are usually red ulcers bordered with white, with white lines radiating outward, Hospital for Special Surgery says. They are sometimes painful and occur most frequently on the hard palate, cheeks and lower lip. When lesions are not painful, they may go undetected, so it is important for lupus patients with this symptom to have regular soft tissue oral exams. These lesions respond to general lupus medications, immunosuppressants and, for severe cases, anti-malarial drugs.

Sjogren’s Syndrome sometimes occurs in people without lupus, but is more common in people with lupus, according to Hospital for Special Surgery. Sjogren’s Syndrome occurs when the immune system attacks the glands that produce saliva and tears. This disease can completely destroy the salivary glands, which leaves the mouth completely dry. Lack of saliva increases both the vulnerability to tooth decay and the susceptibility to oral fungal infections. This condition can be controlled, but any damage done is irreversible.

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