If you’re read a health magazine, listened to a radio talk show, or watched the news recently, you’ve probably heard your fair share about the “going gluten-free” trend that’s taken hold.
Proponents of the gluten-free diet have claimed that this is the answer to a bevy of gastrointestinal woes, weight gain, and fatigue. Sounds great, right? It’s best to reserve your enthusiasm, cautions Dr. Janice Spada, a dentist in Sudbury, MA.
Like most diet trends, gluten-free has the potential to change lives for a select few, while others would enjoy only negligible benefits. Let’s look at gluten-free from the perspective of someone with celiac disease and what it means for their teeth.
First, What Exactly Is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein, which most of us can tolerate without any problem. For some people, however, an inability to tolerate gluten leads to serious gastrointestinal symptoms. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that results in damage to your intestine when you consume foods that contain gluten.
The disorder affects far more than just your small intestine, however, and has been known to cause problems for your teeth, as well. For example, celiac disease deprives your body of its ability to effectively absorb nutrients. More than 95% of your tooth enamel is comprised of minerals, so you can see how that creates a problem. In some cases, gluten intolerance results in formation of sores in the mouth.
What Does This Mean for Your Teeth?
Sometimes patients don’t necessarily make the connection between tooth decay and celiac disease. Decay occurs rapidly, and even regular brushing and flossing are not likely to ward off the effects of demineralized tooth enamel.
You may experience brown, yellow, or white discoloration on your teeth, or your teeth could take on a mottled appearance. If you do have celiac disease, you could benefit from the help of a specialist, such as a gastroenterologist. Dr. Spada notes that adopting a gluten-free diet following a diagnosis of celiac disease will not reverse the effects of the disorder on your teeth.
Improving the Appearance of Teeth in Celiac Patients
Although celiac disease can cause permanent cosmetic and structural damage to the teeth, cosmetic dentistry provides options. For example, teeth whitening can create a more even appearance for patients with minor discoloration. For more severe mottling, veneers cover the surface of affected teeth and enhance their shape and color. With appropriate treatment, you can learn to live with your condition and its effects on your teeth.
Questions about caring for your teeth? To schedule an appointment with Dr. Spada, or to request more information about our services, contact our office at 978-443-3111. You can also find us on Facebook, where we share the latest news and events from the world of dentistry. We serve patients living in Hudson, Marlborough, Worcester, and surrounding Boston suburbs.