Nutrition and Dental Health, Part II -Celiac Disease and Dental Abnormalities

In my last blog I discussed the importance of nutrition for dental health and how poor eating habits can harm your teeth. Certain conditions such as celiac disease can also negatively impact oral health -particularly when they go undiagnosed.

Celiac disease, which affects approximately 1% of the US population (or 1 in 133 persons) is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine caused by a reaction to gluten proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, other grains and many processed foods.  For those with the disease, ingesting gluten causes an inflammatory reaction that prevents efficient absorption of nutrients in the small intestine. Dental defects are one of the many manifestations of celiac disease and a vigilant, knowledgeable dentist, can be key in discovering and diagnosing the disorder. 

Dental enamel defects are common among celiacs, particularly children, according to Alessio Fasano, M.D., medical director at the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research. In fact, according to Fasano,  dental enamel defects might be the only obvious manifestations of celiac disease. Here again, a dentist may be the critical factor in a patient receiving a correct diagnosis.

Dental enamel problems stemming from celiac disease include tooth discoloration — white, yellow, or brown spots on the teeth — poor enamel formation, pitting or banding of teeth, and mottled or translucent-looking teeth. 

Unfortunately, tooth defects resulting from celiac disease are permanent and do not improve once the patient adopts a gluten-free diet — the only available treatment for celiac disease. But dentists may use bonding, veneers, and other cosmetic solutions to cover enamel defects in older children and adults.

While dental enamel defects are the most common, other oral problems celiacs can encounter include: recurrent canker sores or ulcers  inside the mouth; atrophic glossitis, a condition characterized by a red, smooth, shiny tongue; dry mouth syndrome; squamous carcinoma of the pharynx and mouth; and delayed eruption of the teeth.

For more information on nutrition and dental health, listen to me on Sat, Feb 28th from 9-10am on KDOW 1220AM (broadcast from the San Francisco Bay Area) when I’ll be a guest on the Dr. Smiles radio program. For more information on nutrition for celiac disease, please visit my website at http://www.bewellcoaching.com.

Be Well,

Carolyn

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