Scleroderma or systemic sclerosis is a chronic, progressive connective tissue disease characterized by fibrosis (thickening and hardening) of the skin and internal organs. Derived from the Greek words “sclerosis” meaning hardness and “derma” meaning skin, scleroderma literally means hard skin. Oral complications of this condition include restricted opening and tightness of the mouth making oral healthcare very difficult, chronic periodontal disease, xerostomia, and TMJ problems.
The Scleroderma Society of Canada serves as an advocate nationally for those affected by the disease and works collaboratively with regional scleroderma organizations and the international scleroderma community to achieve common objectives of: promoting public awareness, supporting those affected by Scleroderma, and funding research to find a cure. Their annual meeting was held in Calgary on September 21-22, with nearly 250 attendees. A fundraising Scleroderma Walk through the streets of downtown Calgary opened the Conference. There were 23 speakers, including ADA&C member, Dr. Trey Petty, who spoke on the Oral Manifestations of Scleroderma.
The Keynote speakers included world leaders in Scleroderma research: Dr. Marco Maticcu-Cerinic, Director of Division of Medicine & Rheumatology, University of Florence, Italy and Dr. Fredrick Wigley, Director of The Johns Hopkins Scleroderma Center. The attendees included rheumatologists and other physicians, nurses, physiotherapists, dietitians, as well as people living with Scleroderma, and other caregivers. The attendees came from every province in Canada, as well as attendees from Texas, Wisconsin, Florida, England, Netherlands, and Italy.