Celiac disease can have many surprising effects on the oral health. This immune disease, triggered by exposure to gluten, can result in dental enamel defects, an increased risks of cavities, delay dental development, and cause sores or changes to the soft tissue in the mouth. Celiac disease affects 2 million Americans and is more likely to occur in genetically susceptible individuals.
Dental enamel can be affected in many ways, especially in those who develop Celiac disease at a young age. Changes can be seen on teeth as white or yellow discoloration, lines, grooves, pitting, dullness, or translucent looking enamel. Studies have shown that people with Celiac disease develop cavities more frequently, due to a decrease in the calcium and phosphorous ratio, which causes the enamel structure to become more soluble. The development and eruption of permanent teeth can be delayed in those who have Celiac disease. This means that children will lose their baby teeth slower and at a later age than average.
Canker sores are another effect of Celiac disease on oral health. These sores, or small ulcers inside the mouth, can be white, gray, or red and often appear in recurring clusters. They usually will heal within a week or two on their own and are not contagious. For temporary relief, antimicrobial mouthwash or over-the-counter topical anesthetic is recommended. Another common symptom of this condition is a dry or burning sensation of the tongue, caused by changes in how the body absorbs iron, folate and vitamin B-12. This can even cause the tongue to appear shiny, smooth, or red. A reduction in the amount of saliva can also occur (see our previous blog post for more information on saliva). The reduction in saliva production leads to dry mouth or xerostomia.
If you have celiac disease, it is best to use fluoride mouth rinses to prevent cavities, and drink plenty of water to avoid dry mouth. The mouth ulcers are exacerbated by exposure to gluten but there are numbing mouth rinses that can be prescribed if the sore does not resolve easily. A regular dental visit can help preserve your healthy teeth and gums.
To stay on top of your oral health, schedule a dental exam for you or your child today with our family dentist (Museum Smiles) in Fort Worth by calling 817-870-5099. We are conveniently located within minutes from downtown and are happy to see patients from surrounding areas of Arlington, Keller, and Fort Worth.