Monday, February 22, 2016

Gluten Sensitivity and Oral Manifestation

The relationship between oral health and overall health is symbiotic – what affects one entity has an impact on the other. In recent years, the nature of the oral-systemic connection has become more and more pronounced as studies show the link oral conditions such as periodontal disease and tooth abscesses can have on the health of the rest of the body.

Additionally, these studies have opened the door for better understanding of how certain health conditions have oral health implications. In particular, celiac disease, or gluten sensitivity has a range of oral symptoms. As a result, many health professionals are now recognizing the benefit of inter-disciplinary diagnoses as allowing patients to pursue effective care more rapidly.

The Oral Implications of Celiac Disease
Popularly known as gluten sensitivity, celiac disease occurs when a patient is intolerant to the gluten protein which is found in wheat, rye, and barley. This can prevent the body from properly absorbing important nutrients, including iron, calcium, folate, and fat-soluble vitamins. The condition can lead to a number of other health implications, including gastric reflux, ulcers, bloating, chronic constipation and diarrhea, cramping, as well as anemia.

Patients with celiac disease may also experience oral symptoms. In addition to causing canker sores, celiac disease also lead to geographic tongue (where gluten-induced damage causes the tongue to look like a topographical map), tonsil stones, redness at the back of the throat, excess mucus production, bad breath, and cysts on the flap of skin connecting the top lip to the gums. Most uniquely, celiac disease can also cause tooth enamel defects, leading to an increased risk of cavities and decay.

Oral Manifestations and Rapid Diagnosis
While this condition is one of the most common chronic GI disorders worldwide, diagnosis can be difficult as the symptoms are often confused as other conditions. As a result, identifying celiac disease is often delayed, causing patients to go for extended periods of time without realizing what is causing their discomfort or to be misdiagnosed, leading to mistreatment and the potential exacerbation of the symptoms.

As dentists see patients at least twice a year, many are able to notice the oral symptoms of a gluten sensitivity and recommend a visit to their general physician for a confirmed diagnosis. This opens the door for more rapid diagnosis, potentially leading to patients receiving the right care before the symptoms of celiac disease wreak havoc on the patient’s overall health.

Oral and Overall Health
At the Sunnyvale dental practice of Dr. Ratna Indah, our personalized dental treatments are created to reinforce each patient’s oral and overall wellness. By monitoring your smile for signs and symptoms of extenuating health conditions, our dentist is able to provide patients with comprehensive solutions and lifelong oral health. For more information about achieving long-term wellness through oral care, contact our Sunnyvale dentist today.

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