Many people continually develop cavities despite their best efforts to eat well, brush thoroughly, and floss daily. Interestingly, new research indicates that for some individuals, such tooth decay may be a sign that there is a larger underlying problem: celiac disease. What is celiac disease, and what effect does it have on the state of your mouth?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease affecting the small intestine. Sufferers commonly experience abdominal pain and cramping, diarrhea, and fatigue, to name just a few of the disease’s effects. A genetic disorder, celiac disease causes inflammation in the small intestine when gluten proteins are digested. This intestinal inflammation makes the absorption of nutrients from daily food intake difficult and at times impossible. As a result, those with celiac disease may develop a number of physical ailments, particularly from a lack of iron, calcium, and vitamins A and E, and other nutrients that are essential in building and maintaining overall health. As a result of these deficiencies, those suffering with celiac disease often have ongoing troubles with their teeth and potentially problematic gums.
In adults with undiagnosed celiac disease, frequent cavities, eroding enamel, mouth sores, and other recurring dental problems can signal the condition. Children with undiagnosed celiac might have spots on their new teeth with no enamel, delayed eruption of their teeth (either baby or adult), and multiple cavities. It’s also not unusual to find undiagnosed celiac in someone with periodontal disease or badly receding gums. Encouragingly though, in some cases changing to a gluten-free diet can help to reverse some of the oral damage that’s been done.
If you are one of the more than 330,000 Canadians that have been diagnosed with celiac disease, switching to a gluten-free diet is your only effective treatment. If you have not been diagnosed, but are experiencing digestive difficulties or have been experiencing a susceptibility to tooth decay and malformations, why not investigate it further? Unfortunately rates of celiac disease have nearly doubled in the last 25 years in western countries, with many more still going undiagnosed. Dentists are in a very good position to recognize when a patient might have celiac disease, and speaking to your dentist might be the first step in determining if it is a potential issue for you.
Whether it is celiac concerns or anything else related to your oral health and well-being, your dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group is always happy to answer all of your questions.