Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that leads to inflammation and damage throughout the body. According to the Lupus Foundation of America, it affects about 1.5 million people in the United States. If you're one of them, you probably already know that your condition can cause a lot of health complications, but you may not know that cavities are one of them. Here's what you need to know about lupus and cavities.
How do cavities form?
Cavities form when you don't clean your teeth well enough, for example, by not brushing your teeth for long enough or by forgetting to floss. This allows food and plaque to stay on your teeth, and this gives the bacteria in your mouth an easy meal. The bacteria feed on what you left behind, and as they feed, they make acids. These acids eat away at the outsides of your teeth, and if the process is allowed to go on for long enough, a cavity will eventually form.
What does lupus have to do with cavities?
Lupus doesn't cause cavities, but it does cause changes in your mouth which make it easier for cavities to form. Lupus can affect your salivary glands, which leads to chronic dry mouth. This is a lot more serious than just feeling thirsty. Your saliva is supposed to coat your teeth to protect them from acids, but if you don't have enough saliva, your teeth are vulnerable to decay. This is why people with lupus have an increased risk of developing cavities.
How can you prevent cavities?
Everyone knows that brushing and flossing is the best way to prevent cavities, but for this strategy to work, you need to brush and floss properly. According to dentists, the most common toothbrushing mistake that people make is not brushing for long enough, so make sure that you're brushing for at least two minutes. Other people don't brush all of the surfaces of their teeth, which allows food to be left behind.
People with lupus may also need treatment for dry mouth, the condition that increases your risk of getting cavities. Your dentist may recommend using artificial saliva to moisten your mouth and help protect your teeth.
Lupus can cause problems throughout your entire body, and surprisingly, cavities are one of these problems. If you have lupus, make sure to take your oral hygiene routine seriously, and see your dentist for help in treating your dry mouth.
For more information, contact Hurst Family Dental or a similar location.