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Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, or SLE, is a chronic autoimmune disease which significantly affects various organs of the body and the oral cavity. According to various studies, SLE can cause an increased risk of periodontitis, fungal infections, and dental caries within the oral cavity. Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition mediated by an infectious etiology which affects the supporting tissues of the periodontium and alveolar bone. With SLE being an inflammatory condition as well, recent studies have emerged hypothesizing the possible association between SLE and periodontitis. Other effects on the oral cavity such as fungal infections including lichen planus and angular cheilitis are occasionally seen in patients with lupus. Furthermore, SLE has been shown to increase the prevalence of dental caries due to decreased salivary flow and pH, and subsequent changes in the oral flora. On a systemic level, internal inflammation of SLE could lead to several other problems within the body and certain medications patients take for SLE treatment can cause cutaneous lesions. Therefore, as clinicians, it is imperative to adequately review patient medical histories as well as perform intraoral and extraoral examinations in order to fully understand the possible contraindications between dental treatment and SLE. The purpose of this literature review is to inform clinicians on the oral and systemic aspects of SLE and how evidence-based decision making may impact dental treatment planning in order to provide patients with the best quality of care.

Publication Date



systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE, oral cavity, periodontitis, fungal infections, dental caries


Dental Hygiene | Medicine and Health Sciences

Faculty Advisor/Mentor

Dr. Joan Pellegrini

Dental Hygiene Student Scholarship

Date of Submission

May 2018

Would You Recognize Lupus?