Eating gluten-free has been increasing in popularity over the past couple of years. Sometimes this dietary change is due to choice. Other times, it’s out of necessity. Those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance avoid gluten because it makes them incredibly sick. In these individuals, gluten can also cause irreversible tooth damage and other serious oral health concerns.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is used to describe the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. These proteins act like a glue that allows foods to maintain their shape. Many foods contain gluten, even some that may be surprising like some condiments.
What Oral Health Problems Does Gluten Cause in Patients with Celiac Disease?
When someone who is hypersensitive to gluten is exposed to it, they can become very sick. Usually symptoms of celiac disease are found in the gastrointestinal tract, but all parts of the digestive system, including the mouth, can be affected.
Gluten ingestion by those with an intolerance actually blocks the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals. This includes Vitamin D. Without this nutrient, tooth enamel isn’t protected and begins to erode. In fact, 85% of those with celiac disease have enamel damage. Without the protection of enamel, teeth are left exposed to decay and other oral health problems. But that’s not all. For these individuals, consuming gluten may also cause:
- Canker sores
- Painful, red, swollen gums
- Tooth discoloration
- And pitted teeth
It’s important to note that gluten itself doesn’t affect individuals without celiac disease the same way it does those who do have it. Seek medical advice before making any significant changes to your diet.
At my dental office in Chapel Hill, we support any diet that makes you feel healthy, including if you choose to eat gluten-free. For our patients that do have celiac disease, we encourage you to avoid gluten, not only for your oral health, but for your overall health as well.
If your teeth have suffered enamel loss or you’re at risk for losing your teeth, whether caused by celiac disease or not, there are ways to help. Schedule a visit with your dentist in Chapel Hill to discuss your options, which may include dental implants, restorative dentistry options, or cosmetic dentistry treatment.
Accepting patients from Chapel Hill, Durham, Pittsboro and the surrounding areas.