Research shows that people with celiac disease have a higher chance of developing dental problems, from enamel problems to a dry mouth, when compared to control groups. These dental problems can be so significant that dentists may be able to spot celiac disease before it’s been diagnosed. In most cases, dental problems are believed to be associated with the poor nutritional absorption that comes with celiac disease. Eating an exclusively gluten-free diet and taking supplements can help to improve dental health.
Children’s teeth and celiac disease
Anyone with celiac disease before their permanent teeth are fully developed are at a higher risk of dental problems, whether it’s been diagnosed or not. One of these problems is not having enough enamel on the teeth which can lead to discoloration, cavities, and sensitivity. In severe cases, teeth can appear ridged or pitted with horizontal grooves across them.
While the reasons behind enamel problems in children with celiac disease are unclear, it’s possible it’s due to nutritional deficiencies caused by the destruction done to the small intestinal lining or the immune system damaging developing teeth. Sadly, once the damage has occurred it’s irreversible, which is why it’s so important to diagnose it as early as possible, particularly in children. That being said, dentists can use dental sealants or bonding to help protect the teeth and crowns or dental implants can improve the appearance of teeth for a better look and feel.
An increase in cavities
One of the earliest symptoms of celiac disease can be a decline in teeth and gum health with people suddenly getting multiple cavities just before getting a diagnosis. Not only is this linked to undiagnosed celiac disease in childhood, but also to low levels of vitamin D.
Depending on where you live, vitamin D is something that some people will always have to supplement to keep their levels up as the skin makes it from sun exposure, but people with celiac disease commonly have lower levels, regardless of location. It’s also possible that other deficiencies play a part, such as calcium, as the small intestine struggles to absorb nutrients from food. Following a gluten-free diet can help to prevent further dental problems related to diet, as well as supplementing vitamins.
Mouth sores and dry mouth
There are many reasons why people develop mouth sores, but one study found a 16% higher chance in children and a 26% higher chance in adults with celiac disease developing them recurrently. Again, it’s not entirely clear why, but experts believe it’s linked to nutritional deficiencies. There’s also a link between chronic dry mouth, known as Sjögren’s syndrome, and celiac disease, with an estimated 15% of people having both conditions. A dry mouth can consequently lead to tooth decay and tooth loss. Fortunately, medications can help to stimulate the flow of saliva, helping to protect teeth, so if you have celiac disease and a dry mouth it’s worth talking to your doctor about Sjögren’s syndrome.
Following a gluten-free diet when you have celiac disease can improve your overall health, including your dental health. Supplements may be required to help the body get all the nutrients it needs and it’s always worth speaking to a dentist about how they can help with the appearance and functionality of teeth and gums.