Eating gluten-free has been increasing in popularity over the past couple of years. Sometimes this dietary change is due to choice. Other times, it’s out of necessity. Those with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance avoid gluten because it makes them very sick. In these individuals, gluten can also cause irreversible tooth damage and other serious oral health concerns.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is basically the proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. They act as a type of glue that holds food together and allows foods to keep their shape. Many foods contain gluten, even some that you may not suspect, so checking labels carefully is important.
Why is it Bad for Gluten-Sensitive Teeth?
When someone who has celiac disease is exposed to gluten, their immune system reacts negatively and blocks the absorption of essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. Without these vitamins, tooth enamel isn’t protected and begins to erode. In fact, 85% of those with celiac disease have enamel damage. Without the protection of enamel, teeth are left exposed to decay and other oral health problems. But that’s not all. For those who are gluten-sensitive, consuming gluten may also cause:
- Canker sores
- Painful, red, swollen gums
- Tooth discoloration
- And even pitted teeth
It’s important to note that gluten negatively affects the teeth of those who have celiac disease or other forms of gluten sensitivity, but it does not affect those who do not have gluten sensitivity. Before switching your family’s diet, talk with your pediatric dentist in Overland Park and your physician.
Protect Your Little One’s Smile
Even though the signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance typically show in the gastrointestinal tract, that’s not always the case. In fact, it can first show signs in the mouth in the form of symptoms above. Additionally, once the damage is done, there’s a good chance it can’t be reversed. This is yet another reason to maintain regular visits to your pediatric dentist in Overland Park. To make sure your child’s teeth are protected, even if he doesn’t have celiac disease or gluten intolerance, get a check-up every six months.
Lastly, whether or not your child has celiac disease, make sure you practice good oral hygiene at home by brushing and flossing every day.
LeBlanc & Associates Dentistry for Children has pediatric dentists throughout Johnson County, including in Overland Park, Prairie Village, Olathe, and Kansas City. We’re always accepting new patients. Give us a call today!