According to the Mayo Clinic, one in 141 Americans living in the U.S. has celiac disease. However, it is believed that as many as an additional two million people have it, but remain undiagnosed. Living with Celiac disease traditionally means a wheat-free diet, but it may require you to alter your oral care habits as well. People with this condition are more prone to gastrointestinal problems, and as a result, their teeth (often referred to as “Celiac teeth”) are more prone to decay. This means those with Celiac disease need to take extra steps to protect their enamel. Other dental issues associated with Celiac disease include dry mouth, canker sores and even oral cancer. We take a look at what Celiac Disease is and offer some tips to ease your symptoms and protect your mouth.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is a type of chronic digestive disorder in which a person’s body is unable to tolerate a protein called gluten. Gluten is a protein is found in wheat, oats, rye, and barley. When ingested, the gluten causes an immune response that results in the destruction of small protrusions that are located in the small intestine. The protrusions, called villi, allow the intestine to absorb nutrients that the body needs from the foods that are being digested. Because of the destruction of the villi, nutrients are unable to be successfully digested and a person can suffer from malnutrition. Celiac disease can appear at any time in a person’s life. In adults, the disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth. CD is a multi-system, multi-symptom disorder. Symptoms vary and are not always gastrointestinal. GI symptoms can often mimic other bowel disorders. Infants, toddlers and young children with CD may often exhibit growth failure, vomiting, bloated abdomen, behavioral changes and failure to thrive.
How do I know if I have Celiac Disease?
Although celiac disease is a condition that affects both children and adults, the symptoms often manifest differently according to which category a person falls into. Young children often experience symptoms associated with digestive difficulties, such as vomiting, abdominal bloating, and weight loss. Bowel-related symptoms include stools with a strong, foul odor, chronic diarrhea or constipation, and fatty stools. Additionally, sufferers may seem more irritable as a result. Signs of malnutrition due to celiac disease in infants and young children may include stunted or delayed growth, late puberty, and dental defects in permanent teeth.
As adults, people who develop celiac disease will tend to have fewer digestive symptoms. Common symptoms for adults include feelings of depression, fatigue, and anxiety. They may suffer from iron-deficiency anemia that cannot be easily explained, arthritis, osteoporosis, itchy skin, and canker sores. Women may experience missed periods or infertility or may be more susceptible to miscarriage. Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin rash that is also associated with the disease.
How does Celiac Disease affect oral health?
Follow these tips and work with a knowledgeable dental professional to keep your overall health in excellent shape despite this dietary limitation.
Do you have any questions about Celiac Disease and your oral health? Call Westermeier Martin Dental care to schedule an appointment with your dentist 716-655-5000 or request an appointment online.