Often dental clinics associate malformed, decayed, unhealthy teeth and gums with inadequate dental hygiene habits at home. However, we believe that if these problems are identified, and are otherwise unexplained, our dental staff can be alerted that there may be another disorder that is causing these symptoms to occur.
Celiac disease is one example of a disorder that can cause serious health complications, and symptoms of this disease can be prevalent during a routine dental exam. Over the last year, we have been providing dental care to a family that has two young children with Celiac disease. They have helped our staff here at Alma Dental become more acquainted with Celiac disease and understand how important our role is in their overall health and maintenance. Hence, we thought it fitting to share few important facts about Celiac disease, and how gluten negatively impacts the oral health of those diagnosed with this disease.
What is Celiac Disease?
According to the Canadian Celiac association, it is estimated that 1 in 133 persons in Canada are affected by celiac disease. Celiac disease is one of the most common chronic gastrointestinal disorders in the world. This condition causes damage to the absorptive surface of the small intestine when the digestive system is exposed to gluten. This results in an inability of the body to absorb essential nutrients: protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health. Celiac disease is a permanent intolerance to certain proteins collectively called “gluten” that are present in wheat, rye and barley and related grains.
Young children often have symptoms associated with the digestive difficulties, such as vomiting, abdominal bloating, weight loss, and irritability. Children can also demonstrate signs of malnutrition which may include stunted or delayed growth, late puberty, and dental defects in permanent teeth.
Adults with Celiac disease can also experience digestive symptoms, however more commonly symptoms for adults include feelings of depression, fatigue, and anxiety. They may suffer from iron-deficiency anemia that cannot be easily explained, arthritis, infertility, osteoporosis, skin rashes, itchy skin, and canker sores.
This disease can be screened for with a specific blood test. It this blood test is positive, it is officially diagnosed with a biopsy of the small intestine which would confirm damage to the absorptive lining. If you are experiencing symptoms of Celiac disease, please follow up with your healthcare provider to receive assessment.
Celiac Disease – Oral and Dental Symptoms
Celiac disease can develop at any age when gluten is present in the diet, but if it develops in children while permanent teeth are developing, this can cause abnormalities in the structure of the dental enamel to occur. Common oral and dental symptoms of celiac disease include enamel defects such as pitting and grooving, delayed eruption of adult teeth, recurrent oral ulcers, and increased prevalence of dental caries leading to more cavities and dental repair required.
There is only one way to treat Celiac disease, and that is a permanent elimination of gluten from the diet. This rigorous gluten-free diet must be adhered to in order to prevent further damage to the small intestine. This life long gluten free regimen is complex, as gluten is hidden in many unforeseen items.
Dental Care for Celiac Patients:
The Alma dental team takes time to review medical history of our patients prior to a dental exam. For our patients with a known Celiac diagnosis, we ensure all of our dental and cleaning products used are certified gluten free. For all of our patients, we carefully monitor for common oral and dental symptoms of celiac disease. If we see these dental problems, and they are otherwise unexplained, we will refer these clients to their physicians for screening and follow-up. We believe as your dental health professionals, that we play a key role in increasing awareness about Celiac disease and preventing some of the serious complications of this disorder to occur. For more information on Celiac disease, please visit the Canadian Celiac Association at http://www.celiac.ca/