Celiac disease is one of the most common chronic genetic
autoimmune disorders in the world and can affect
children and adults. Individuals with this disorder have
permanent intolerance to gluten, which is a protein in wheat,
rye, barley and related grains. The gluten leads to damage of the
small intestine lining. Heredity plays a role in the onset of the
condition with symptoms occurring through an autoimmune
According to the National Institute of Health, in the
United States, celiac disease affects an estimated two million
individuals, or one in 133 people and occurs twice as often in
females. The only treatment is a gluten-free diet. This disorder
can start at any age when the diet first includes gluten.
With celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune
response in your small intestine that eventually leads to
inflammation and damage of the small intestine's lining. With
this damage, food is not absorbed properly, called malabsorption.
With malabsorption, vital nutrients cannot be delivered to the
brain, nervous system, bone, liver and other organs.
Due to malabsorption, children with celiac disease can experience growth and developmental problems. There is no cure for celiac disease. Following a strict gluten-free diet helps management of symptoms. The common symptoms associated with celiac disease include the following, however, some people may have no symptoms.
Abdominal pain (especially after eating)
Oral Manifestation of Celiac Disease
Celiac disease has particular signs that show up orally, and
dentists can have an initial important role in recognizing and
identifying it in people who may not know they have the disorder.
It's estimated 90 percent of individuals in North America
remain undiagnosed. Early referral to a gastroenterologist and
treatment can help prevent complications of this gluten intolerance
If celiac disease appears before age seven, the outer surface
of the teeth (enamel) can have an abnormal appearance. The
permanent teeth will show the following defects:
Delayed eruption of teeth
Cream, yellow or brown spots on the surface
Rough surface with grooves and shallow pits
Shape of tooth may be dramatically changed
These same oral symptoms can be caused by other dental conditions.
In fact, dentists may diagnose the abnormal appearance
of colored spots enamel to a condition caused by too
much fluoride or that the mother took the antibiotic tetracycline
Other oral related conditions of celiac disease include:
Recurring mouth ulcers (canker sores also known as aphthous ulcers)
Red, smooth, shiny tongue (atrophic glossitis)
Squamous cell carcinoma (cancer of the pharynx and mouth)
Treatment of Oral Manifestations of Celiac Disease
Unfortunately, tooth defects that result from celiac disease are
permanent and don't improve with a gluten-free diet. However,
there are treatments that your dentist can provide to help improve
esthetics. These include:
Tooth bonding to improve slight defects
Veneers to improve the whole front surface of the tooth
Crowns for teeth that are damaged throughout
Veneers and crowns are cosmetic solutions for older children and adults, while tooth bonding can also help with children's teeth.
For dry mouth, avoid toothpaste with sodium lauryl sulfate.
This harsh detergent can dry the tissues and exacerbate mouth
sores. Mouthwash with alcohol also tends to worsen dry mouth.
For canker sores, it's reported taking 500 mg of the amino
acid L Lysine helps to reduce the occurrence and hasten healing.
Proper oral hygiene is crucial towards maintaining oral
health, especially if you notice dry mouth. Harmful bacteria
thrive in a dry oral environment. To keep the bacteria from causing
gum disease, practice proper oral hygiene on a daily bases.
Of course, regular dental check ups are important to detect
early potential problems.