Gluten Sensitivity May Show Up as Tooth Damage – Part I

Best_DentistGluten sensitivity often takes months or years to be diagnosed correctly. And your dentist may be the first person to diagnose it. “Many health problems show up in the mouth first, “ says Dr. Carol Ford from her Phoenix dental practice. “Most people see their dentist regularly and the oral examination that most dentists do regularly can be the key to unlocking health problems,” Dr. Ford adds.

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH),  “ . . .dental enamel defects can help dentists and other health care providers identify people who may have celiac disease and refer them to a gastroenterologist. Ironically, for some people with celiac disease, a dental visit, rather than a trip to the gastroenterologist, was the first step toward discovering their illness.”

“Thinning enamel can have many causes, “ says Dr. Ford. “But knowing that gluten intolerance is a likely cause means that patients whose dentists suspect celiac disease can be referred to a gastroenterologist, get a clear diagnoses and begin treatment.”

Gluten is a protein that occurs naturally in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. If the body’s immune system is triggered by gluten, a variety of symptoms can occur. At the mild end of the spectrum, intolerance can cause a host of hard-to-diagnose symptoms, including headache, aching joints and exhaustion. At the other end is celiac disease, in which the lining of the intestine is damaged.

“Once the intestine are damaged, the body can no longer absorb nutrients,” says Dr. Ford. “Malnutrition often occurs and that can easily lead to problems of calcium deficiency, bone loss and enamel loss in teeth,” she continues.

Bone loss can be serious for anyone. The teeth are held in place by the bone in the jaw, and thinning bone can threaten teeth stability. While tooth decay and enamel problems occur far more frequently among those who are gluten intolerant, early diagnosis can lead to help before problems get worse.

(Discover what can be done about enamel damage and how enamel stains on your child’s teeth be more than just a stain in the second half of this article.}

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