Sjögren’s syndrome is an uncommon autoimmune disorder in which the immune system attacks your body’s moisture-producing glands. This can cause dryness in the eyes, mouth, and throat.
It also commonly results in serious dental complications. Saliva is your body’s natural defense against oral bacteria. When your mouth is dry, bacteria are free to grow, and the acid they secrete isn’t buffered, so it causes more damage to your teeth. So people with Sjögren’s syndrome are more likely to lose teeth.
Concerns and Benefits of Dental Implants
For people with Sjögren’s syndrome, there’s concern that dental implants will suffer the same fate as your natural teeth: infection, destruction, and loss. After all, the diminished production of saliva can impact dental implants, too.
But it turns out that’s not a major concern. Two recent studies looked at the viability of dental implants in people with Sjögren’s syndrome. One published earlier this month compared 205 women with Sjögren’s syndrome with 87 healthy controls. They found that the Sjögren’s syndrome patients were more likely to have removable dentures or dental implants (49% vs. 30%). Although the patients hadn’t had implants that long (less than five years), the implants had a survival rate over 95%.
A previous retrospective study followed up with Sjögren’s syndrome patients to see how many had dental implants. A relatively high percentage (21%) had dental implants. When compared to healthy controls, the Sjögren’s syndrome patients had good peri-implant health, and the survival rate for dental implants was 97%, although the follow-up was short again (46 months).
With these good results for dental implants, it’s hard to see the benefits of dentures for Sjögren’s syndrome patients. Dry mouth can significantly impact a person’s comfort and health with dentures. Irritation from partial dentures can be more serious in a person with dry mouth. And there’s a good chance that the impact partial dentures have on your natural teeth (wear and increased cavities) might be increased if you have dry mouth.
Add this to the generally poor function and low satisfaction with partial dentures, and there seems to be little reason to pursue partial dentures for Sjögren’s syndrome patients.
Dental Implants Are the Best Solution for Missing Teeth
When considering dental implants, it’s important to take into consideration potential health conditions that can negatively impact your odds of success. Sjögren’s syndrome certainly has the potential to do that, but it seems like it’s actually not a major concern.
Given that, dental implants are the best approach to replace teeth lost due to Sjögren’s syndrome.