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A Diminished Sense of Taste with Sjögren’s

Posted on Fri, Feb 08, 2019

Research has shown that Sjögren’s patients have an increased incidence of taste disorders – both diminished taste (hypogeusia), loss of taste (ageusia), and altered or abnormal taste (dysgeusia). A great deal of the problem comes from a deficiency of saliva. Flavors in food need to be in solution to be fully tasted; that is one of the important functions of saliva. Saliva also helps protect the mucosa and oral structures, including the taste buds. Finally, saliva helps carry food and flavors across the tongue and the taste buds where it can be tasted. Without adequate saliva, there are many ways that taste can suffer.

A full evaluation is recommended since it has been reported that taste also may be affected by medications and by a number of medical conditions. Clinical examination and diagnostic procedures may identify other potential causes for taste complaints such as nasal polyps, viral infection, oral candidiasis, neoplasia, malnutrition, metabolic disturbances, or chemical and physical trauma. Also, complaints of taste loss need to be differentiated from alterations in flavor perception, which is primarily related to your sense of smell.

There is no specific treatment for the taste disorders found in Sjögren’s. However, using liquids to wet the food in your mouth may help increase the taste. You can also try increasing the seasoning on foods and see if it improves the taste. However, be careful not to use excessive amounts of sugar or salt, which can have negative health consequences. Since a reduction in salivary flow may concentrate electrolytes in the saliva, resulting in a salty or metallic taste, drinking plenty of fluids while eating may help reduce dysgeusia.

Although it is controversial, some authors recommend zinc supplements in cases of taste problems. Using an over-the-counter preparation like Z-BEC, one tablet per day, will assure that you are receiving adequate amounts of zinc.

by Philip C. Fox, DDS

This article was first printed in The Moisture Seekers, SSF's patient newsletter for members. 

 

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Topics: Dry Mouth, Saliva, Thrush, Oral Candidiasis (Thrush), Sweling in the mouth, Loss of Taste

Ask the Expert: Sjögren’s & Lymphoma

Posted on Fri, Oct 30, 2015

Question_and_Answer "I know as a patient with Sjögren’s I am at a higher risk for Lymphoma, is there anything my dentist could be on the lookout for to help catch it early?"

 This is true; patients with Sjögren’s have an increased risk for developing lymphoma. Most commonly, the lymphoma associated with Sjögren’s is low-grade non-Hodgkin’s B-cell in nature. Visiting a dentist regularly, at least twice a year, is essential, as early detection may affect treatment.

What does lymphoma in the mouth look like?

The tumors associated with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma usually present as non-tender, slow growing masses that may arise in several areas of the body including the neck or the oral cavity. In the mouth, lymphoma presents as a diffuse, non-tender swelling that may be described as boggy. Occurring with higher frequently in the gingiva, posterior (closer to the throat) hard palate and buccal vestibule (the area between the gums, teeth and cheek), these masses are often red or blue-purple in color.

So what does this mean?

As stated earlier, visiting a dentist regularly and routinely is extremely important for early detection. Additionally, when visiting your dentist, make sure to tell him/her of your history of Sjögren’s. It is important that your dentist conducts a thorough and comprehensive head and neck examination, which includes palpating the cervical lymph nodes (lymph nodes in your neck) as well as lifting the tongue and assessing the lateral borders (teeth sides of the tongue), the hard palate, floor of the mouth, buccal vestibules, soft palate, gingiva and the remaining soft tissues in the oral cavity.

Is there anything I can look out for?

Yes. It is important to visit your physician if you notice a swelling in your neck that persists for more than two weeks. You should also visit your dentist if you notice a swelling in your mouth that remains for more than two weeks. As a rule of thumb, if you notice any lesions in your mouth that remain for more than two weeks, it is recommended that you visit your dentist.

by Lauren Levi, DMD, Dental Oncologist 

This information was first printed in The Moisture Seeker, SSF's patient
newsletter for members.

Take Control of Your Health!  Receive our Newsletter by Becoming an SSF Member

Topics: Diagnosing Sjogren's, Dry Mouth, Sjogren's, Treatment, Swelling in the neck, Lymphoma, Sweling in the mouth

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