Gluten and Your Oral Health

Gluten is a type of protein present in some types of grains. It is a sticky substance that holds foods together. Foods most associated with gluten are wheat, rye and barley. They are commonly found in pasta, cereals, bread and dressings.

Recent research looked into the long-term effects of gluten sensitivity, or celiac disease, in terms of childhood development, finding:

  • Increased chance of developing cavities
  • Increased need of dental treatment
  • More likely to experience dry mouth
  • More likely to develop frequent mouth or canker sores

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by the consumption of gluten among susceptible individuals. One of the main effects of celiac disease is small intestine damage. Celiac disease can also have an effect on your oral health.

If a person receives a celiac disease diagnosis at an early age, they may have problems with their enamel development, leading to enamel defects in the teeth. These enamel defects may appear as yellow, white, or brown stains, according to the American Dental Association.

When enamel forms improperly, it can also lead to banding and pitting, which gives teeth an uneven or even translucent appearance. Although receiving an early diagnosis and treatment for this condition may prevent future defects, it cannot reverse current ones. If celiac disease affects the appearance of your teeth, you may want to consider cosmetic dental treatments like dental veneers or bonding.

One common symptom of celiac disease is the development of frequent mouth ulcers or canker sores. These are small breakouts appearing on the inside of the lips or cheeks, as well as under the tongue or roof of the mouth. They typically have a white, somewhat circular appearance.

If you develop canker sores due to celiac disease, or for any other reason, you can minimize irritation by avoiding eating acidic and spicy foods until the sores resolve themselves. In the case of larger canker sores, we may be able to recommend a mouth rinse to help ease your symptoms.

If you have celiac disease and are not following a gluten-free diet, your chances of developing a type of oral cancer is an alarming 10 times more likely.

Celiac disease is notoriously hard to diagnose, with many people only receiving a diagnosis many years after the development of symptoms. If you or your dentist notices any symptoms consistent with celiac disease, it may be worth it to get tested. Excluding gluten from your diet should help with problems like canker sores. Problems like dry mouth and enamel defects can be managed and treated with appropriate dental care.

Thanks for your support!

– Dr. Houlik 




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