Though relatively rare, celiac disease can cause serious complications in those it afflicts, which is thought to be about 3 million people in the United States.
Many people, however, are unaware they suffer from the condition until a series of symptoms or complications occur. One of those dire indicators is tooth loss.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the consumption of gluten—a protein found in barley, wheat and rye—triggers a reaction in the small intestine that leads to inflammation and prevents the absorption of certain nutrients. There is no cure for celiac disease, but when diagnosed in a timely fashion it can be managed with a gluten-free diet.
Complicating diagnosis is the fact that the symptoms associated with celiac disease vary widely, and many are shared with other health ailments. Signs and symptoms of celiac disease include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Recurring nausea or abdominal pain
- Softening of the bones or loss of bone density
- Blister-like skin rashes
- Premature erosion of the teeth enamel
- Oral ulcers
- Joint pain
Celiac disease’s causes are not known, and it can affect children and adults alike. But the condition is more common among those with a family history of celiac disease, or who have Type 1 diabetes, Down syndrome, Turner Syndrome, thyroid disease, Addison’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis.
Celiac Disease and Your Teeth
In a recent interview, actress Jennifer Esposito opened up about her years-long battle with celiac disease and revealed that she sought treatment after losing a tooth. In addition to acting, she now runs a gluten-free, celiac-friendly bakery.
Tooth loss associated with celiac disease can occur due to the body receiving insufficient nutrients. Malnutrition leads to a loss of calcium and diminished bone density, as well as weakened dental enamel. Those who suffer tooth loss due to celiac disease may pursue dental implants or other treatment options after the condition is properly controlled.
Without dietary management, celiac disease can further lead to lactose intolerance, neurological problems, cancer, and infertility or miscarriage in women. You should see a doctor if you experience stomach discomfort or diarrhea that lasts longer than two weeks.
It’s also advisable to consult with a doctor before switching to a gluten-free diet. If you believe you have celiac disease and you cut gluten from your diet before being tested, blood tests likely won’t reveal the presence of celiac disease.
Austin cosmetic dentist Dr. Dan Matthews understands the intimate connections between your oral health and your general health. At the Bee Cave Road office of Dan Matthews, DDS, our entire team is dedicated to providing compassionate care and smiles as beautiful as they are healthy. Please call us today at 512-452-2273 to schedule your consultation.