Celiac Disease: Watch Your Mouth

in Celiac
Published: March 13, 2013

Celiac disease can affect your teeth, mouth and overall oral health in a number of ways:

  • Dental enamel defects: Patches of grey, yellow, white or brown on the teeth, and/or teeth that are deeply pitted, grooved or misshapen. The defects are found on both sides of the mouth or on both upper and lower teeth, not just on one or two. Cavities may be common because of weak enamel.
  • Canker sores: Frequent, painful, open sores in the mouth. They are small and usually white or yellow.
  • Atrophic glossitis: A smooth, painful tongue.
  • Cheloisis: Cracks and scaling around the lips.
  • Oral lichen planus: Inflammation of the mouth’s mucous membranes, characterized by painful white or red patches, or open sores.

When It’s Worse Than a Cavity

People with celiac disease who do not follow the gluten-free diet are at increased risk of not just dental problems, but cancers of the mouth, pharynx and esophagus. A study in the medical journal Gut found that celiac patients who did not follow a strict gluten-free diet had a nearly 10-fold risk of developing oral cancer compared to people who did stick to the diet, who had the same risk as the general population. If you have celiac disease, make sure to inform your dentist and dental hygienist so that they can carefully monitor your oral health.

See also: Celiac Disease’s Toll on Your Teeth