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Sjogren’s syndrome and dental care
August 19, 2019

This article is for dental providers

Beginning September 1, 2019, to help maintain the physical and dental health of our members, we will add Enhanced Dental Benefits for members with a past diagnosis of stroke or Sjogren’s syndrome. This expands the list of conditions that are currently covered to include:

  • coronary artery disease (CAD)
  • diabetes
  • oral cancer
  • pregnancy
  • Sjogren’s syndrome
  • stroke.

This program is designed to respond to our members’ needs to help maintain their oral health.

This article focuses on the impact of Sjogren’s syndrome on dental care. A future article will focus on dental care and stroke.

What is Sjogren’s syndrome?
Sjogren’s syndrome is an autoimmune disease identified by the symptoms of dry eyes and mouth. This condition may be accompanied by other disorders thought to be autoimmune in nature. It primarily affects women, usually after age 40.

Patients with Sjogren’s syndrome show a significant decrease in the production of both tears and saliva. The disease blocks the saliva glands in the mouth from their normal production. Because saliva protects against cavities, the reduction in saliva may may increase the risk of dental decay.

Dr. Athena Pappas, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine

What additional benefits will be offered?
To help our members with this condition practice good oral hygiene, the Enhanced Dental Benefits program will offer cleanings and fluoride treatment at three-month intervals and enhanced oral screenings at six-month intervals. These additional benefits will allow early detection and prevention of the side effects of Sjogren’s syndrome.

Dr. Athena Pappas, a practicing dentist who heads the Division of Oral Medicine at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine and has expertise in Sjogren’s syndrome, remarks, "I am happy that Dental Blue is extending their Total Health Solutions program to include Sjogren’s syndrome. Patients who have this condition have significant oral health needs, particularly the need for preventive services to help control the side effects of a dry mouth. I commend Blue Cross of Massachusetts for recognizing the importance of this condition and helping to make the dental lives of these patients better."

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