Mouth opening in systemic sclerosis: its course over time, determinants and impact on mouth handicap

Sarah J.H. Khidir*, Maaike Boonstra, Sytske Anne Bergstra, Gerry W.M. Boerrigter, Elles M. Voogt-van der Harst, Maarten K. Ninaber, Nina Ajmone Marsan, Tom W.J. Huizinga, Annette H.M. van der Helm-van Mil, Jeska K. de Vries-Bouwstra

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Objective: Decreased maximal mouth opening is a common and disabling manifestation in systemic sclerosis patients. We aimed to study the course of maximal mouth opening, determinants of smaller maximal mouth opening over time and the burden of smaller maximal mouth opening on mouth handicap. Methods: Consecutive systemic sclerosis patients participating in the prospective Leiden Combined Care in systemic sclerosis cohort were included. Annual clinical assessment included maximal mouth opening measurement and mouth handicap evaluation (Mouth Handicap in Systemic Sclerosis scale). Presence of microstomia (maximal mouth opening < 30 mm) was studied. Maximal mouth opening over time was assessed on group level and for all patients individually. Baseline characteristics were analysed for their association with smaller maximal mouth opening over time (linear mixed-effects models). Furthermore, cross-sectional association between maximal mouth opening with Mouth Handicap in Systemic Sclerosis scale was assessed (linear regression analysis). Results: A total of 382 systemic sclerosis patients were studied with median follow-up time of 2.0 years (interquartile range = 0.0–3.0). At baseline, mean maximal mouth opening was 42.2 ± 8.0 mm and 7% suffered from microstomia. Annual decrease of > 5.0 mm in maximal mouth opening during follow-up occurred in 63 patients and was accompanied by increase in disease severity. Disease characteristics at baseline independently predictive for smaller maximal mouth opening over time were: more extended skin subtype; peripheral vasculopathy; pulmonary, renal and gastrointestinal involvement. Smaller maximal mouth opening was significantly associated with more reported mouth handicap. Conclusion: The course of maximal mouth opening is stable in a majority of systemic sclerosis patients. Still, maximal mouth opening over time was smaller in patients with more severe organ involvement. Although microstomia was infrequent, a smaller maximal mouth opening was significantly associated with more mouth handicap, indicating the importance to address maximal mouth opening in routine care of systemic sclerosis patients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-71
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Scleroderma and Related Disorders
Volume8
Issue number1
Early online date5 Dec 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

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© The Author(s) 2022.

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