Celiac disease is a genetic, autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is hypersensitive to gluten, leading to difficulty digesting food. Basically, their immune system attacks the cells of their small intestines when they eat gluten. Over time, this can lead to trouble getting key nutrients like calcium and iron.
Celiac disease can also be hard on your teeth.
Here’s a closer look at the ways celiac disease impacts dental health:
Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that develop on the inside of the mouth, tongue, lips, or throat. They can make eating and talking difficult. Those with celiac disease are more prone to getting canker sores. If you have celiac disease and experience canker sores, talk to your dentist. They’ll help treat them.
Children with celiac disease may get cavities more often than kids without celiac disease. The reason: studies show slight differences in their tooth structure and a decrease in the amount of calcium and phosphorous (building blocks) in their teeth. If your child has celiac disease, let their dentist know. They’ll offer advice and guidance for keeping their teeth healthy.
Delayed Dental Development
Kids with undiagnosed celiac disease often lose their baby teeth slower than those without. If you have a family history of celiac disease and notice your child’s delayed dental development, talk to their pediatrician. Early detection can help prevent complications later on.
Dental Enamel Defects
Patients who develop celiac disease at an early age (seven or younger) might have the enamel formation of their baby teeth and permanent teeth disrupted, resulting in enamel defects. This gives the teeth the appearance of white or yellow spots or streaks. These spots can sometimes have rough horizontal grooves.
Unfortunately, the enamel damage is permanent. There are no dietary changes that will reverse the effect. That’s why it’s extremely important for children and adults with enamel defects to stay on top of their regular dental visits. Dentists will help ensure their teeth stay healthy.
Dry Mouth Syndrome
Celiac disease can lead to dry mouth. Dry mouth is caused when your saliva (spit) production is decreased. It can lead to tooth decay because you have less saliva in your mouth to wash away bacteria and food debris. Saliva is like your mouth’s natural mouthwash. If you experience dry mouth, talk to your dentist. They’ll help treat it before it causes problems.
People with celiac disease often experience a dry or burning sensation of the tongue. It’s caused by a lack of vitamin B-12, folate, and iron. Research shows this may increase their risk of oral cancers. If you have celiac disease, it’s extremely important to stay on top of your preventive dental visits. Your dentist checks for signs of cancer during these visits. Early detection is key to effective treatment.
How to Keep Celiac Teeth Healthy
The biggest thing you can do for your body and mouth is to eat a gluten-free diet. It will help prevent damage to your small intestine and reduce the severity of dental problems associated with celiac disease.
For oral care, make sure to choose products that are gluten-free. Just because it isn’t food doesn’t mean that there is no gluten in it. Check the labels on everything you use in these categories:
- Fluoride Varnish
- Oral care devices (like toothbrushes and whitening pens)
And if you have celiac disease, let your dentist know so they can help keep your mouth healthy.
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