Scleroderma and oral health

Steve Russell, Dental Technician, Petone Dental Laboratory Ltd.

Steve Russell spoke about oral health.

He said one of the risks was underproduction of saliva, which resulted in increased tooth decay because of higher acidity in the mouth and reduced salival cleaning.

OralSeven mouthwash is formulated to maintain a neutral pH of 7 to counteract acidity. It also contains Aloe Vera which addresses the dry mouth problem.

Two problems with mouth

Not enough saliva and tight mouth/face muscles.

Saliva is an antiseptic, necessary for cleaning mouth.

Also important to aid digestion and swallowing. Insufficient saliva leads to reduced oral hygiene and swallowing difficulties.

Saliva replacements are not very effective. Can suck on sugar-free gum or mints (Eclipse) to stimulate saliva production, and/or use aloe vera juice to supplement saliva.

Exercises for mouth muscles were included in respiratory section – opening wide, puckering closed, broad smile, puffing out cheeks.

Moisturise and massage to warm before exercises. Hold a warm facecloth over your mouth. Don’t use Vaseline often, but do use before going to the dentist, and massage and exercise.

Dental appointments

Get a recommendation for a dentist from the Scleroderma Society, or other people locally.

Discuss with dentist before making an appointment. Keep appointments short.

May need to see a dentist or hygienist more often if having difficulty cleaning teeth.

Use fluoride toothpaste and leave on overnight rather than rinsing off. After eating or drinking, rinse mouth with water to restore neutral pH, then wait for half an hour or so before brushing teeth.

Food and drinks tend to be acidic and soften enamel. Allow to harden again before brushing.

Tooth implants

These are not recommended with scleroderma. And not plastic partial plates. These days 3D printed chrome cobalt.