15 Jun 4 Oral Signs You May Have Celiac Disease
The mouth often serves as the first warning sign that there is a health issue elsewhere in the body. Today, we are discussing celiac disease, a serious autoimmune disease in which the immune system responds to the consumption of gluten (wheat, rye, barley) by attacking its own body. Over time, the body reacts to gluten by attacking the lining of the small intestine, preventing the absorption of important nutrients. Long-term this malabsorption can lead to permanent damage of the digestive tract.
The symptoms of celiac disease are broad and therefore may not be diagnosed until it has progressed. Several early signs of celiac disease can appear in the mouth. Here are four oral signs you may have celiac disease.
ORAL SIGNS OF CELIAC DISEASE
Aphthous ulcers, more commonly known as canker sores, are small lesions that occur on soft tissue in the mouth including under the tongue, near the base of gums, and inside the cheeks. Relatively small, this round white or yellowish-looking blister often creates a painful feeling of burning, making it difficult to eat or drink. Canker sores can result from a number of health issues including the immune system’s rejection of gluten.
In celiac disease, the body reacts to gluten by mistakenly attacking the villi in the small intestine. Villi enable the absorption of nutrients or fluids to the body. This attack affects moisture-producing glands that can decrease the production of saliva, leading to dry mouth. Saliva plays an important role in removing harmful bacteria that gathers in our mouth throughout the day. The buildup of bacteria can lead to halitosis, simply known as bad breath. Bad breath may not be related to celiac, but should nonetheless be addressed with a visit to the dentist to determine the root cause and identify a treatment plan.
Swollen or Miscolored Tongue
The tongue is often the first muscular organ to react to a health issue in the body. The tongue naturally has small pink and white bumps that give it its texture. In the case of celiac disease, the tongue can react to gluten consumption with larger red bumps, a bright or shiny coating, or persistent swelling of the tongue. A 2016 study noted in glutenfreeliving.com found that approximately 15% of patients with a swollen tongue were later diagnosed with celiac disease. A swelling tongue can also be the indication of a more serious reaction to any number of food and health issues and should be addressed immediately.
Celiac disease, especially in children, can lead to the delayed formation of teeth as well as incomplete development of dental enamel. Teeth may begin to show discoloration with yellow or dark color spots, grooves, pits, and unevenness in the overall enamel covering of the tooth. Weakened enamel leaves teeth vulnerable to cavities and left untreated, can progress to gum and periodontal disease. Enamel does not regrow but there are restorative measures a dentist can take to protect the tooth and internal dentin including bonding and veneers.
Other potential oral indications of celiac disease include tonsil stones, chronic sore throat or heartburn, excessive mucus, as well as a metallic taste in the mouth.
PREVENTIVE CARE IS THE BEST CARE
A dentist is trained to spot oral issues and assess the root cause. Additional evaluation by a medical physician may also be recommended.
The four symptoms discussed do not mean a person has celiac disease or any serious health issue. Rather, these signs simply serve as notice that your body is reacting negatively to some influence. Taking preventive action is the best way to catch and treat potential health issues early on.
At Imperial Dental Center, our goal is to provide the best oral care to our patients to ensure the overall health of your teeth and body. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
Dr. Dragana Angelova
We Love to See You Smile