Are you gluten intolerant and wondering how your special diet affects your oral health? Gluten sensitivity, or the more severe form called celiac disease, has been a buzz phrase in social media and pop culture recently. Most readily available information is around diet changes and how gluten sensitivity can impact your overall health, but what about your oral health? This article will cover how gluten can affect different aspects of your oral health.
What is gluten sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity, also known as celiac disease in the more serious form, is an autoimmune disorder in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine, which disrupts the absorption of nutrients. According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, an estimated two million Americans have celiac disease and approximately 18 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity.
How does gluten impact oral health?
Unfortunately, for those with gluten sensitivity, oral health issues are fairly standard. Some of the most common issues for you and your dentist to look out for include defects in your enamel, recurrent canker sores, delayed dental development, and dry mouth.
Not all dental enamel defects are caused by gluten sensitivity, but for some people, this is the only sign of active celiac disease. Some enamel defects that you may experience include tooth discoloration — which could be white, brown, or yellow spots on the teeth — rough-feeling pits or grooves on the surface of the teeth or an increase in cavities.
Recurrent canker sores
Canker sores, painful small red or white sores on the inside of your mouth, are a fairly common issue for those with gluten sensitivity. These sores can develop on the inside of your lips, on your gums, the inside of your cheeks or on your tongue, and can make eating and talking difficult and painful. They typically go away within 10 days, but for those with gluten sensitivity may last longer or redevelop quickly after going away.
Delayed dental development
For people with undiagnosed celiac disease, particularly children, dental development is usually delayed. This may mean that children lose their baby teeth more slowly, the skeletal development in the jaw is delayed, and permanent teeth erupt later than usual.
Another common issue for those with gluten sensitivity, dry mouth is when your saliva production is decreased. This can lead to increased cavities and tooth decay, as a decrease in saliva means there is less to wash away bacteria and food debris.
If you have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, you should definitely keep in mind the impact that it will have on your oral health. The great news is that, although gluten can have a negative effect on your oral health, this effect can usually be treated or even prevented. Ensure that your oral hygiene products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, are gluten-free by reading ingredient labels or checking with manufacturers.
As always, regularly visiting your dentist is the best way to keep your mouth healthy and to avoid problems in the future.
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