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How Celiac Affects Your Teeth

Woman smiling with healthy teeth.

 

While most people think about Celiac in connection with a gluten-free diet as Celiac’s primary impact on the digestive system, this condition can also have far-reaching consequences for oral health.

What is Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease is a health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is an autoimmune disorder triggered by consuming gluten (a protein molecule which is found in wheat, barley, and rye). When a person with Celiac Disease eat gluten, their immune system sees it as a threat, responding by attacking the lining of the small intestine. Over time, this attach can lead to a host of digestive symptoms, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and malabsorption of nutrients.

Celiac Disease and Oral Health

The impact of Celiac Disease can extend beyond the gut, affecting various systems in the body, including oral health.

Dry Mouth

In those with Celiac Disease, the autoimmune response can affect the salivary glands, impairing their function and leading to dry mouth. To many people, this can sound like a mild inconvenience. However, saliva plays a crucial role in maintaining oral health by neutralizing acids, washing away food particles, and aiding in digestion. In addition, saliva helps to remineralize tooth enamel and protect against bacterial growth.

Dry mouth can have several adverse impacts on oral health, which include an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Without an adequate supply of saliva, the mouth becomes a more hospitable environment for harmful bacteria, leading to these dental issues.

Aphthous Ulcers

More commonly known as canker sores, aphthous ulcers are painful, round sores that can develop on the inside of the cheeks, lips, or tongue. Unfortunately, these sores can be particularly bothersome and uncomfortable.

While the exact cause of these sores is not fully understood, research suggests a potential link between Celiac Disease and an increase of canker sores. The inflammation and immune response triggered by gluten ingestion may be at play.

Enamel Erosion

Tooth enamel is the hard, protective outside layer of teeth, and it plays a critical role in safeguarding teeth from decay and damage. Celiac Disease can affect enamel in several ways:

Nutrient Absorption: Celiac makes it difficult to absorb essential nutrients due to damage to the small intestine. Calcium and vitamin D, which are important for strong teeth and bones, may be poorly absorbed, leading to weaker enamel.

Acidic Imbalance: Celiac Disease can disrupt the balance of oral bacteria, potentially resulting in an acidic environment in the mouth, which can erode enamel over time.

Delayed Tooth Eruption

Delayed tooth eruption is another oral health concern that may be associated with Celiac Disease. Children with Celiac Disease may experience delays in the eruption of their primary (baby) and permanent teeth. This delay may be the result of nutritional deficiencies and malabsorption issues.

Treatment and Management

Managing oral health in individuals with Celiac Disease requires a multi-faceted approach. Here are some key strategies.

A Gluten-Free Diet

The biggest step in managing Celiac-related oral health issues is a strict gluten-free diet. Eliminating gluten completely from the diet can help alleviate the autoimmune response that contributes to symptoms.

Talk to Your Dentist

Regular dental checkups are essential for monitoring oral health and addressing any issues as soon as possible. Your dentist can detect early signs of enamel erosion and administer fluoride treatments to help. In addition, we can provide guidance on maintaining oral hygiene and offer treatments to manage symptoms like dry mouth and canker sores.

If you have Celiac Disease or any other chronic medical condition, it is important to discuss it with us. Many medical issues can affect your oral health, but we are here to help. Schedule your next appointment today!

 

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