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Celiac Disease and Mouth

Celiac Disease

It is a food allergy to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Not all people who react negatively to gluten have celiac disease. Definitive diagnosis is achieved by endoscopic biopsy. According to Canadian Digestive Health Foundation, it is believed that more than 330, 000 Canadians are affected by gluten sensitivity or allergy. Only 110,000 Canadians have confirmed medical diagnosis for celiac disease.

Celiac Disease and Teeth

Celiac disease not only causes gastrointestinal symptoms, it can also affect teeth in your child. The most common symptoms of celiac disease are as follows:

Discolouration of Teeth: Adult teeth may come in with white, yellow or dark spots on them.

Structural Tooth defects: The structural defects are seen mostly on adult teeth. Rough surfaces, grooves or pits are seen on teeth. In severe cases, the shape of some teeth may be changed.

Delayed Eruption: Adult teeth will come in later than average. On average, front teeth come in around the ages of 6-8 and back teeth come in around the ages of 10-12.

Celiac Disease and Mouth

Celiac disease causes inflammation in many parts of body, including the mouth.

Mouth Ulcer (Recurrent Aphthous Ulcers): it is a common condition where round painful ulcers develop inside the mouth. They will go away on their own, especially if your child is on a strictly gluten-free diet.

Inflammation of Oral Tissue: Inflammation of corners of the mouth (cheilosis), inside the mouth (oral lichen planus) or tongue (atrophic glossitis) can be seen in children with celiac disease.

What Can I Do?

Currently, the only treatment is to adhere to a strict gluten-free diet. If your child has any oral symptoms, consult Dr. Ella to help your child. We may fix teeth with defects or prescribe mouth rinse to help with inflammation.
For more information, check out this handout from Canadian Celiac Association.

Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving South Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Aldergrove in Beautiful British Columbia.