Dentists’ Knowledge Aids in Treatment of Scleroderma Patients

Dentists may have a leg up in treating other issues based on their familiarity with autoimmune disease.

A survey among dentists in Massachusetts indicates that their confidence in treating patients with scleroderma stems from their knowledge of other autoimmune diseases. These dentists concluded that their knowledge of the issue enabled them to be more prepared with treating these patients when compared to their counterparts who didn’t possess that knowledge.

Scleroderma patients often see their mouths shrink and have stiffer hands, which create difficulty in doing tasks like brushing your teeth or flossing. This reason could be why scleroderma patients have a higher risk of oral diseases.

A study was developed to see how much dentists knew about scleroderma. The survey was sent to nearly 4,500 members of the Massachusetts Dental Society, which was about 80 percent of the practicing dentists in the state. There were 269 responses to the survey, which included questions about the dentists’ knowledge of scleroderma and their ability to treat it.

The 71 percent of dentists who said they could confidently treat it were more likely to be knowledgeable about the disease’s indicators. More than half of the respondents stated that they were worried not knowing enough about the disease could cause more harm to the patient. Also, 96 percent of the dentists said that they would like to learn more about the disease.

This study proves that lack of general knowledge of scleroderma adversely impacts the way dentists treat these patients. The only was to fix this problem is to educate dentists about the condition.