Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder according to the Celiac Disease Foundation, and affects about one out of every 100 people worldwide. Those with the disease aren't able to digest gluten, a protein found in grains like wheat, and the disease damages their small intestine in such a way that makes it hard for the body to absorb many vital nutrients.
Although its effects on the digestive system are well known, you may be surprised to learn there are several oral manifestations of Celiac: teeth defects, dry mouth and canker sores among the most common.
Enamel quality can become a problem for those with Celiac disease, states the Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign, and can involve discoloration or poor development. Teeth with discolored enamel often have dots that appear brown, yellow or even white. Poorly formed enamel, on the other hand, looks pitted or banded, and the teeth may look translucent instead of opaque.
Unfortunately, enamel defects caused by Celiac disease are permanent, so they won't go away if you begin a gluten-free diet. Your dentist may therefore be able to deal with this condition with veneers or bonding.
Dry Mouth Syndrome
Dry mouth syndrome is exactly what it sounds like – the feeling that your mouth is frequently too dry. The condition can be caused by Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that attacks your salivary glands and may occur alongside Celiac disease. According to the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, between 4.5 and 15 percent of people with Celiac disease also have Sjogren's syndrome.
When you're not producing enough saliva, you often struggle to chew and swallow food. It may also make it more difficult to speak clearly. This syndrome isn't just annoying; it's a medical concern. Because saliva helps to keep your teeth clean, not enough of it may cause you to develop cavities more easily.
Canker sores, also known as aphthous stomatitis, are uncomfortable oral lesions that develop on soft tissues – the insides of your cheeks or the roof of your mouth, for instance. Much like dry mouth, these lesions can make it hard for you to eat or speak. According to National Institutes of Health (NIH), studies have shown they affect between 3 and 61 percent of people with Celiac disease.
Canker sores go away by themselves, but they can recur later. If your canker sores are getting in the way of daily activities, your dentist may be able to ease your symptoms with prescription mouth rinses or topical anesthetics.
For people with Celiac, issues that influence enamel, saliva or oral tissues are a legitimate cause for concern. If you've got a set of Celiac teeth, make sure your condition doesn't go ignored. Developing any of these oral manifestations is a perfect reason to see your dentist right away for diagnosis and treatment.
Learn more about solutions for dry mouth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.