Tennis great Venus Williams’ recent diagnosis of Sjögren’s syndrome spotlights a condition that affects more than 3 million Americans, but is still widely unknown.

Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas is home to one of the leading centers for the diagnosis and treatment of Sjögren’s.

At the Salivary Dysfunction Clinic and Research Laboratory, periodontics professor, Dr. Ibtisam Al-Hashimi is considered the nation’s leading expert on salivary dysfunction. She hears the stories of patients, mostly women, suffering from this rare and debilitating ailment that causes extreme dryness of tissues throughout the body.

Al-Hashimi is the impetus behind the Sjögren’s Multi-Specialty Referral Center, a cooperative effort by the dental school, Baylor University Medical Center and the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, which serves as a clearinghouse for health care providers treating Sjögren’s patients.

In the past, patients suffering from Sjögren’s syndrome often visited numerous medical specialists for relief of seemingly unrelated symptoms caused by a single disease. The center enhances collaboration among medical and dental specialists in the care of Sjögren’s patients. Once diagnosed with Sjögren’s, patients can receive better-coordinated care.

Texas A&M Health Science Center Baylor College of Dentistry also hosts the Sjögren’s support group for individuals diagnosed with this autoimmune disease.

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Founded in 1905, Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas is a college of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. TAMHSC-BCD is a nationally recognized center for oral health sciences education, research, specialized patient care and continuing dental education. The HSC serves the state as a distributed, statewide health science center that is present in communities throughout Texas.

— LaDawn Brock