A systemic autoimmune condition affecting over 4 million Americans, Sjogren's Syndrome is a persistent dryness of the exocrine glands responsible for tear and saliva production. Sjogren's syndrome is often associated with a rheumatic disorder and is characterized by inflammation in contrast to sicca syndrome which accounts for dryness but not arthritis symptoms.
Occurring most commonly in patients over 40, 9 out of 10 affected individuals are females. Sjogren's is believed to be an inherited condition and therefore not possible to prevent, but can be treated.
The primary affected areas include the eyes and the mouth. These areas can be checked for healthy production of tears and saliva respectively for diagnosis. Treatments include modifications to diet, environment, use of medications, eye drops, and oral hygiene.
A primary treatment plan for an individual with Sjogren's Syndrome is effective oral care including routine brushing, rinses such as chlorhexidine gluconate, and the use of dry mouth gels to stimulate saliva production. The decreased level of saliva can lead to dental caries, gum disease, redness, lesions, and severe discomfort making it essential to maintain a moist, healthy oral environment.