This April will mark the 19th annual Sjögren’s Awareness Month as the Sjögren’s Syndrome Foundation (SFF) continues its mission of educating healthcare providers and patients alike about the autoimmune disorder, which affects more than 4 million Americans as well as 2.5 million people who are currently undiagnosed. Dentists who want to know more and get involved are invited to join the organization’s efforts.
“Our goal is to increase public and healthcare professional awareness of Sjögren’s, further shorten the time for correct diagnosis, which now takes an average of 3 years, and encourage research into new treatments and a cure for one of the most prevalent autoimmune disorders affecting approximately 1% of the US population,” said Steven Taylor, CEO of the SSF.
Each day in April, the SSF will use its social media channels to educate consumers, healthcare professionals, and others by providing facts about the disease, offering resources, and sharing stories of those with Sjögren’s to help others visualize and better understand what it is like to suffer from it.
“Dry mouth is a common early symptom of Sjögren’s, and dentists are often on the frontline of diagnosis,” said Taylor. “We encourage dentists and others devoted to oral care to help us spread the word by following us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn and by sharing and commenting on selected posts issued from these channels using our #ThisisSjogrens hashtag,” said Taylor.
“Sjögren’s is often referred to as an invisible disease because while patients may experience extreme discomfort, their symptoms are not clearly visible to others,” said Ava Wu, DDS, oral medicine specialist at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center Sjögren’s Syndrome Clinic.
“With the added support of the dental community and industry partners, we believe we can shine a light on Sjögren’s to ensure greater awareness and understanding of this often debilitating disease and help patients get an early diagnosis and proper treatment that may prevent serious complications and greatly improve their quality of life,” said Wu.
The SSF also works with healthcare providers to ensure quality and consistency of care for the assessment and management of patients with Sjögren’s. In 2016, it worked with hundreds of dentists to publish the first Dental Caries Prevention Clinical Practice Guidelines in Sjögren’s Patients, which helps dentists, oral medicine specialists and Sjögren’s disease patients determine the best strategies for preventing caries due to dry mouth.
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