Dental Implants May Be Effective for Patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome

After some extensive analysis, a study published in the International Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery says that dental implants may be an effective treatment for tooth loss in patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s Syndrome is a disease that destroys glands, especially those around the eyes and mouth. Glands in these areas are responsible for producing fluids that keep your eyes and mouth properly moist.

Patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome often suffer from dry eyes and mouth. Dry mouth is especially concerning because it can contribute to dental decay and crumbling teeth. Teeth that are severely decayed or damaged are lost or extracted, meaning that Sjögren’s patients often suffer from missing teeth.

The Trouble with Replacing Teeth

Dentures have long been a reliable replacement for missing teeth, but patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome often have difficulties with this type of replacement. Their dry and sensitive gums often make wearing dentures very uncomfortable.

More than simply uncomfortable, patients with dry mouth may experience sores and infection from the dentures rubbing on their gums. This leads to further problems with oral health.

Over time, the lack of teeth can cause the jawbone to recede because it is no longer being stimulated by tooth roots. Substantial bone loss means that patients of all sorts — both those with and without Sjögren’s Syndrome— may not be able to receive dental implants, a fairly recent innovation in replacing teeth.

When considering patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome for this procedure, the concern is that their mouths cannot remain healthy enough for dental implants over a long period of time. These concerns stem from persistent dry mouth and bone density loss.  Swedish researchers set out to find an answer.

Studying Dental Implants for Patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome

Researchers conducted a literature review. The review included following up on the results from 705 dental implant placements, which were received by a pool of 186 patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Of these 705 implants, researchers found that 29 of them had failed, indicating a failure rate of 4.1%. Statistical analysis found that the probability of failure was 2.8%.

Beyond a literature review, researchers decided to conduct a study of 19 Sjögren’s patients over a period of ten years to determine the overall success of dental implants. Of these 19 patients, two of them lost a total of three implants. The results of this study were comparable to the literature review. The study of these 19 patients showed a 2.8% failure rate.

Sjögren’s patients from this study reported a significantly improved quality of life as well as better oral health. Their satisfaction came from both appearance and ability to eat and speak well.

Conclusions from the Study

Although patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome are more prone to bone loss than other patients, researchers were encouraged by the results of their study. They are optimistic about using dental implants to replace teeth in patients with Sjögren’s Syndrome.

Of course, every patient must be treated on an individual basis, including assessing bone loss and overall health. Though dental implants are not guaranteed to be effective for these patients, this treatment is one worth exploring in order to give patients the best chance at improved oral function and health.