Do you suffer from frequent canker sores? Do you always seem to have dry mouth? These could be caused by many things that are no cause for alarm, but they could also be warning signs of a bigger problem: celiac disease. Celiac disease has several of what are known as "oral manifestations" – physical symptoms that occur in the mouth that may indicate the presence of celiac disease in the body. If you are experiencing any one or more of these indicators, you may have the condition.
What Is Celiac Disease, Anyway?
You've probably heard a lot about celiac disease in the media lately, thanks to many people adopting a gluten-free diet. But choosing to eschew gluten is not the same thing as having celiac disease. Celiac disease is a real autoimmune disorder in which the body cannot digest gluten. It also can cause permanent damage to the small intestine, which prevents the absorption of important vitamins and minerals.
Celiac occurs in about one out of every 100 people around the world, and many suffer with the disorder for years before they are diagnosed. In addition to the often extreme discomfort many celiac sufferers experience when they eat gluten, patients may also suffer from the following oral indicators, too.
Frequent Canker Sores
Pretty much everyone gets canker sores from time to time. These harmless oral ulcers typically last about two weeks and can cause varying degrees of discomfort. The good news is that they are not contagious or viral, and usually not serious. But if you experience frequent canker sores and the pain makes it difficult to eat or speak, talk to your dentist about screening for celiac disease. Remember, canker sores are normal and don’t mean you have celiac disease, but if you experience frequent canker sores with other symptoms, it’s worth looking a little closer.
Is your mouth always dry, no matter how much water you drink? You may have a condition called Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that attacks the salivary glands. Sjogren’s Syndrome has been found to frequently occur in patients who also have celiac disease. If you have been diagnosed with Sjogren’s Syndrome, or if you just feel like your mouth is constantly dry, it may be worth your while to undergo testing for celiac disease as well.
Enamel defects will most likely show up in your teeth at birth or later when you get your adult teeth. Chances are if you have enamel defects, you’re already aware. Enamel defects appear as poor tooth development, yellow or brown spotted teeth, discolored teeth, pitted teeth or even translucent-looking teeth. Unfortunately, enamel defects are permanent, but the teeth can be protected with fluoride treatment or sealants and eventually corrected with veneers once the permanent teeth have finished erupting.
If you have any enamel defects in addition to the other oral indicators present, or if you notice significant discomfort when eating foods containing gluten, speak to your doctor about testing for celiac disease.
In the meantime, there’s no need to suffer from things like dry mouth or enamel defects, so speak to Dr. Lederman about ways these oral indicators can be treated at the dentist’s office. The practice can be reached at 516-882-1764.