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Gluten: Its Affect on Your Oral Health

November 3, 2016

November is Gluten-Free Awareness month. The Gluten-free craze has many of us second guessing our own Gluten intake.

But does Gluten have any effect on our teeth?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and grains. Some people have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac
Disease, in which eating gluten affects the lining of the small intestine and prevents the body from absorbing nutrients. It is estimated that over 2 million Americans have Celiac Disease and 18 million Americans have a gluten sensitivity.

For those with Gluten Sensitivities, gluten can have surprising effects on your oral health.

Research Source:

Eur J Oral Sci. 2012 Apr ;120(2):104-12.

In this research study, it was confirmed that gluten causes the body to produce an immune reaction against one of the main proteins responsible for producing enamel on the teeth.  Lack of enamel leads to a variety of oral health problems including excessive cavities, excessive tooth ware and tear, and eventually the premature destruction or loss of teeth.  It is no mystery that gluten proteins can negatively impact the health of the oral cavity.  Even dentists are starting to take an active role in recognizing this problem.

Oral Diseases Linked to Gluten

There are many disease conditions and symptoms of the mouth that have been tied to gluten sensitivity.

  • Canker sores
  • Geographic tongue (gluten induced damage on the tongue – makes the tongue look like a map)
  • Tonsilar stones  (appears as white lumps of puss in the tonsils)
  • Pharyngeal Erythema (chronic severe redness in the back of the throat)
  • Excessive mucus  (leads to chronic throat clearing)
  • Bad breath
  • Cystic Frenula (a small cyst can form on the flap of skin connecting your top lip to your gums)
  • Metallic taste in the mouth
  • Inflammatory gum disease

Food Effects What it Comes in to Contact With

The mouth, tongue, teeth and soft tissues in the intestinal tract are no exception.  Good or bad, food can impact the overall condition of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small and large intestine.  Your food can impact the pH (acid/base) balance and alter the quantity of good and bad bacteria.  First, these bacteria are essential for helping us regulate our immune system. We then digest our food. Lastly, the food produces vitamins like Biotin and vitamin K.

Why do you need to know this?  The improper pH has been linked to gum disease and tooth decay as well.  Additionally, a pH that is too acidic has been shown to contribute to cancer, heart disease, bone loss, diabetes, and many more chronic conditions.  Vitamin K is essential for bone density, immune regulation, and blood clotting.  Biotin is essential for the proper growth of hair and skin as well as essential in the proper breakdown of fat.

Abnormal food reactions can cause inflammatory damage.  To the contrary, healthy food can provide necessary nutrients directly to the gastrointestinal tract.  40% of nutrients for the gut come directly from food, not from the blood supply.  Bottom line:  don’t ignore the power that food has over your oral and gut health.

Doctors recommend a strict gluten-free diet if you’re afflicted by a gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. In addition, visit your dentist for help treating and maintaining your oral health.

In conclusion, you’re in good company. There are many Gluten-Free bloggers sharing their own delicious, gluten-free options of favorite foods ( like pancakes!) You will find many options out there!