Systemic Sclerosis Case Report Details Degeneration in Woman’s Jaw

Margarida Azevedo, MSc avatar

by Margarida Azevedo, MSc |

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systemic sclerosis and oral health

In a new research paper, scientists at the Faculty of Dentistry, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, presented a clinical report of a systemic sclerosis case where the jaw was affected. The research paper, whose goal is to raise awareness among oral radiologists and other health professionals, is entitled “Osteolysis Affecting the Jaws in Systemic Sclerosis: Clinical and Osseous Changes Based on a Case Presentation” and was published in the journal Clinical Medicine Insights: Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Systemic sclerosis or scleroderma is a progressive autoimmune disease characterized by vascular disorders and the onset of fibrosis in the skin and organs that can lead to visceral organ damage, high morbidity and death. The causes of the disease are still elusive, but researchers theorize it involves genetic factors and environmental events, such as viral infections. The pathogenicity of the condition includes signs characteristic of autoimmunity, such as hypoxia, chemokine release, uncontrolled inflammation, recruitment of immune cell,s and release of autoantibodies. In line with other connective tissue diseases, systemic sclerosis is five times more prone to develop in women.

In the case report, the research team described the symptoms and physical assessment of a 54-year-old female patient who presented, among other signs, damaged and extremely poor dental health. The patient’s main complaint was mouth dryness. Researchers evaluated the medical history of the patient and found she had previously been diagnosed with systemic sclerosis.

A panoramic radiograph revealed several dental pathological conditions and damage to the patient’s jaw, where the temporomandibular joint showed erosion with extensive condylar head re-absorption (bone re-absorption of the mandibular condyles), and muscle dysfunction.

Researchers concluded that the case presented features characteristic of systemic sclerosis and extended lesions that were  unusual to the disease. With this research paper, the authors aimed to reinforce the importance of early monitoring of oral health and oral cavity changes in patients with systemic sclerosis in order to avoid deterioration of their quality of life.

The images provided in the article aim to raise awareness among radiologists and clinicians to other features of the systemic sclerosis condition which may be of value in the differential diagnosis of the disease.