How Gluten & Celiac Disease Can Impact Your Oral Health
Every year, National Gluten-Free Day is celebrated in January. Over the last decade, research and studies have shown how gluten has impacted the American population.
To understand how it impacts oral health, we must first know more about gluten, so here are some quick facts:
- Gluten is a family of proteins in wheat, spelt, rye, and barley.
- Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is the most commonly consumed.
- The two main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin.
- When flour is mixed with water, these proteins bind into a sticky network that’s glue-like in consistency.
The name gluten is derived from these glue-like properties. Gluten is present in many foods that Americans consume regularly. Two of its primary properties include making dough elastic and allowing bread to rise when heated by trapping gas molecules inside. These properties are what lead to that satisfying, chewy texture.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten intolerance is when you feel nauseous or get sick after consuming gluten. Symptoms might include bloating, gas or fatigue. Gluten intolerance is also called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), but note that this is not the same as celiac disease or a wheat allergy. At this time, about 6%-7% of the U.S. population is gluten intolerant; this equates to approximately 20 million people. Gluten intolerance, often associated with celiac disease, is most commonly known for causing painful gastrointestinal issues. However, a less familiar and dangerous manifestation of the disease takes place at the site of gluten ingestion: in the mouth.
What is Celiac Disease?
While connected, gluten intolerance and celiac disease are different. People with celiac disease have an autoimmune response to gluten, which means that their bodies try to fight against gluten as if it is a virus. This reaction causes inflammation and damage to their digestive tracts. Celiac disease is the result of an abnormal gene and currently affects approximately 1% of the U.S. population. People with celiac disease also have high levels of certain antibodies in their blood, which are substances that fight gluten. Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease cause a lot of the same symptoms, but people with gluten sensitivity don’t have an abnormal gene or antibodies in their blood.
How Do Gluten & Celiac Disease Affect My Teeth?
People with celiac disease can actually have erosion of tooth enamel because their bodies cannot absorb the vitamins and minerals necessary to protect their teeth. Further, gluten can prevent the body from producing Vitamin K, which is the vitamin needed to maintain healthy bones. Other oral health issues that can occur include excessive cavities or tooth decay, inflamed or irritated gums, tooth sensitivity, and discolored teeth.
How Your Dentist Can Help
For those individuals diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, it’s crucial that you create a good oral health care routine that includes brushing and flossing at least twice per day on top of following a gluten-free diet. Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for regular check-ups and professional cleanings.
Have questions? You know where to find us! Feel free to contact us with any dental-related inquiries on your mind!