Oral Health Connection to Celiac Disease

Canker sores could be a symptom of Celiac disease, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Celiac disease is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition. When people with the disease eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation.

Gluten is the common name for the proteins in specific grains that are harmful to persons with celiac disease. These proteins are found in all forms of wheat and related grains rye, barley and triticale and must be eliminated, according to the foundation.

Celiac disease can appear at any time in a person’s life. In adults, the disease can be triggered for the first time after surgery, viral infection, severe emotional stress, pregnancy or childbirth. CD is a multi-system, multi-symptom disorder. Symptoms vary and are not always gastrointestinal. GI symptoms can often mimic other bowel disorders.

Infants, toddlers and young children with CD may often exhibit growth failure, vomiting, bloated abdomen, behavioral changes and failure to thrive.

Classic symptoms may include abdominal cramping, intestinal gas, bloating, chronic diarrhea, constipation, fatty stool, anemia, unexplained weight loss with a large appetite and weight gain. Other symptoms include dental enamel defects, osteopenia, osteoporosis, bone or joint pain, fatigue, weakness, lack of energy, infertility, depression, mouth ulcers or canker sores, delayed puberty, tingling or numbness in hands or feet, and migraine headaches.

Long-term conditions that can result from untreated Celiac disease include iron deficiency anemia; early onset osteoporosis or osteopenia; Vitamin K deficiency association with risk for hemorrhaging; vitamin and mineral deficiencies; central and peripheral nervous system disorders; pancreatic insufficiency; intestinal lymphomas and other GI cancers; gall bladder malfunction; and neurological manifestations.

Canker sores are small ulcers with a white or gray base and a red border that appear inside the mouth, according to the American Dental Association. They are not contagious but can return frequently and may appear as a cluster.

Their exact cause is uncertain but some experts believe that immune system problems, bacteria or viruses may be involved. Canker sores usually heal on their own after a week or two. Over-the-counter topical anesthetics and antimicrobial mouthwashes may provide temporary relief.

Stay away from hot, spicy or acidic foods that can irritate the sore. Antibiotics from your dentist and some oral bandages can reduce secondary infection.

To learn more about canker sores, visit www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/m/mouth-sores.aspx.

© 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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