Autoimmune Series, Part 2: Psoriasis Impact on Oral Health

July 18, 2019

Psoriasis is one of the most well-known autoimmune diseases. Symptoms of the disease include red, thickened and scaly patches on the skin. Leaving a visible mark on those affected. This is the result of skin cells reproducing too quickly as a result of the immune response. The body is not able to shed these cells as they produce, resulting in the commonly seen Psoriasis symptoms. More than 8 million Americans and 125 million individuals worldwide have been diagnosed. 

Image detailing Psoriasis as apart of skin layers.

Illustration showing where Psoriasis affects skin cells.

It has been found that psoriasis is a genetic autoimmune disorder but is worsened by illness, stress, alcohol and other potential factors. If you have not been diagnosed with psoriasis you may develop symptoms of patchy lesions on the lips. You may also start to see lesions in the mouth if the overproducing cells make their way to the oral cavity. Oral lesions are typically rare. If you’ve already been diagnosed and notice lesions beginning in your mouth, speak with your dermatologist and dentist. 

There are 5 different types of psoriasis. 

-Plaque Psoriasis: This is the most common type most people think of when they hear the term psoriasis. It’s characterized by scaly patches of skin mentioned previously. These can often be itchy and may even crack and bleed.

-Guttate: Presents with small round lesions. This form usually presents in childhood and may even be triggered by a strep infection, which are common among children.

-Inverse: This form presents as shiny lesions usually in skin folds, behind knees in the under arms, etc. Inverse psoriasis is often found in combination with other types of the disease.

-Pustular: Typically affecting the hands and feet, this form presents like you’d expect, with white pustules. Although it may look like an infection, it is not. The pustules are filled with white blood cells as a result of the immune response. 

Erythrodermic: Although rare, this form of psoriasis is particularly severe. It presents as an extreme redness all over the body. It can cause the skin to peel and is usually itchy and painful. This form of psoriasis can be life threatening and you should see a doctor immediately if it appears. Erythrodermic psoriasis is often found in individuals with uncontrolled plaque psoriasis.

 Gum disease may affect autoimmune disease and vice versa.

Any autoimmune disease can increase bleeding and inflammation of the gums.

There has been a limited number of studies on how Psoriasis affects oral health, a lot more research is needed to definitely prove the link. However in one study from Norway, it was found that 24% of participants with psoriasis had moderate to severe periodontitis. In contrast, only 10% of the control group without psoriasis suffered from moderate to severe periodontal disease. At the end of the study, the assumption is made that the link between the two diseases is likely involved in the immune response.

The symptoms of these different forms of Psoriasis can be hard to deal with physically and emotionally.  It is our hope that with more research better understanding will arise. If a link is found between psoriasis and periodontal disease we will strive to provide treatment that can ease the symptoms of both diseases if possible. While we wait for more studies to emerge,if you suffer from psoriasis or any autoimmune disease it seems that good oral health can often improve symptoms. At Dental Care of Vashon it is our goal to treat patients with the best care possible, and that means looking at how we can improve other diseases you may suffer from. Good oral health is good for overall health! If you suffer from psoriasis and would like to discuss how we can further improve your oral health, we can talk it over at your next visit. 

Psoriasis lesions covering the hands.

Psoriasis affecting the hands.




National Psoriasis Foundation


Mayo Clinic


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