Coeliac Disease and Its Effect on Teeth

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease in which gluten prompts an immune reaction, and eating foods containing this substance can cause damage to the lining of the small intestine. This disease is becoming increasingly common and is estimated to affect one in 100 people, but just 10-15% of people with this condition will receive a proper diagnosis. This condition can affect oral health as it can cause mouth ulcers, osteoporosis and problems with tooth enamel which is the hard outer surface that protects the tooth.

Other problems that may be related to coeliac disease include atrophic glossitis which is a condition that causes a painful tongue, and chelosis, a condition that causes cracks around the lips. People with coeliac disease can also suffer from oral lichen planus which is an inflammation of the mucous membranes in the mouth and which can cause painful sores and white or red patches. This disease can also increase the risk of oral cancer in coeliacs who choose not to follow a gluten-free diet, but the risk for oral cancer is exactly the same for those following a gluten-free diet as in people without this disease.

At the moment the number of studies carried out into the connection between coeliac disease and dental problems is relatively low, but an American study in 2009 found that defects in dental enamel were present in 87% of children diagnosed with this disease compared to just 33% who did not have this condition. Some 42% of people with coeliac disease were found to suffer from recurrent ulcers compared to just 22% of those without this condition.

Theories on How Coeliac Disease Affects Oral Health

At the moment very little is known about why this disease affects oral health, but there are several theories. One that makes particular sense is that the disease means the body has trouble absorbing important nutrients, in particular calcium and vitamin D and that this could lead to defects in tooth enamel formation in childhood. It is also thought that people with coeliac disease may have certain antibodies that influence the development of the tooth enamel, but one of the problems faced by dentists is that dental enamel defects can also be due to a number of other problems.

Let Your Dentist Know If You Have Coeliac Disease

If you have been diagnosed with this condition then it’s important to let Leeds City Dentalcare know so that the appropriate treatment plan can be worked out to help protect your teeth and gums. You may have nothing to worry about if your teeth and gums are healthy, as a gluten-free diet should help to protect them. Certain problems that are related to mineral and vitamin deficiencies are likely to improve if you’re following a gluten-free diet. If you have a child who has been diagnosed with this condition before the age of seven been a gluten-free diet should mean tooth enamel defects are less of a problem in the adult teeth. If you are diagnosed with this condition as an adult then you’re probably stuck with any dental enamel defects, and this could mean that your tooth enamel is weakened. You need to take extra precautions to help strengthen the tooth enamel and to minimise the risk of cavities. These are all things that Dr David Brown or any of dentist in Leeds City Dentalcare will be able to advise you on.

Dr. David S Brown

David is principal dentist & clinical director of Leeds City Dentalcare. Having graduated at Leeds University & at the Royal College of Surgeons, London, he joined the practice in 1990 & took over as principal in 1992. He has a passion for ensuring that we are equipped with the very latest & finest equipment available securing our place as one of the best equipped practices in Yorkshire.

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