Gluten free? You’ve probably heard these words recently, especially since more and more people are aware of celiac disease. But did you know that this disease can negatively affect your dental health too?
Currently over 3 million Americans live with celiac disease, but 97% of these people are undiagnosed with it. That’s roughly 1 out of every 133 people in this country.
So, what is celiac disease? It’s a digestive disorder that harms the small intestine, when people eat foods that contain gluten, such as wheat, barley, or rye. This can lead to serious stomach and digestion issues, chronic bloating, excessive gas, as well as withhold important nutrients from the body, such as calcium and iron. Aside from damaging your digestive system, celiac disease can also negatively impact other areas of your overall health, like your teeth and mouth.
4 Ways Celiac Disease Affects Your Dental Health
Cavities – Recent dental studies have shown that children with celiac disease may be more susceptible to tooth decay and cavities. Why? There seems to be a slight difference in the tooth structure of kids who have celiac disease, and it could be because children with celiac disease don’t get enough calcium and phosphorous, two key nutritional building blocks that are essential to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Maintaining regular dental exams and teeth cleanings (twice a year), including topical fluoride treatments, can go a long ways towards battling tooth decay for all kids, and especially kids with celiac disease.
Tooth Enamel Defects – For kids seven and younger, celiac disease can disrupt the enamel formation of their baby teeth, as well as their permanent teeth. This can result in enamel defects, which are evident by the appearance of white, or yellow, spots or streaks. While the damage to the tooth enamel is permanent, our dental team can help children and adults keep their teeth healthy and cavity free through regular exams and cleanings, as well as offer cosmetic solutions for damaged teeth, using veneers, dental bonding, or crowns.
Dry Mouth – Dry mouth occurs when your mouth isn’t producing enough saliva. And your saliva plays an important role in keeping your teeth clean and cavity free. Patients with celiac disease, who experience on-going dry mouth, may have Sjogren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune disorder that affects the salivary glands. Up to 15% of people with celiac disease also have Sjogren’s syndrome. If you’re experiencing dry mouth, there are things that we can do to help keep your mouth moist, such as using sprays, prescription toothpastes and other remedies.
Canker Sores – Patients with celiac disease are more likely to contract canker sores, which cause small, painful lesions on the inside of your cheeks and mouth. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) estimates that canker sores affect between 3 to 61% of people who suffer from celiac disease. While these sores will eventually go away, we can help reduce any discomfort with prescription mouth rinses, and other dental remedies.
Keep Your Body + Teeth Healthy & Happy
If you already know that you have celiac disease, you’re probably already doing a good job to stay on a gluten free diet. This will help your digestive system stay happy and it will also reduce many of the dental problems associated with celiac disease. If you suspect that you may be gluten intolerant, consider getting tested to determine whether or not you have this disease.
Should you have celiac disease, please be mindful of any oral products you use and verify that they are gluten free. This includes your toothpastes, fluorides, anti-cavity varnishes, and mouthwashes.
And when you schedule your appointment to see us, please let us know if you have celiac disease. We’ll keep an eye on any dental symptoms related to it and help keep your mouth healthy, and your smile shiny.