Posted by Jack Fan Sep 02, 2020

Most people know that celiac disease can lead to digestive issues, but did you know it can also affect your teeth and gums? If fact, they can even be the first place that you start to show symptoms for the condition. Even after you limit yourself to a gluten-free diet, these issues can still hang around. Continue reading to learn more about how celiac disease in Austin can affect your oral health and the steps that can be taken to treat these problems.


Celiac disease is an intolerance to the protein gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, and rye. This causes the immune system to attack the small intestines whenever gluten is present. Not only can this be highly uncomfortable, but it can cause lasting damage to the lining of the intestines, which prevents the absorption of several valuable nutrients from your food. Here are a couple of ways it can affect the mouth:

  • Dental Development: If celiac disease becomes apparent while a child’s permanent teeth are still developing, it is possible that they will not grow properly. The teeth could end up looking patchy, white, or discolored due to enamel hypoplasia. Another enamel defect that could occur involves horizontal grooves on the permanent teeth.
  • Aphthous Ulcers: When your immune system is damaging your intestines, it also affects other soft tissue areas of the body, such as your mouth. This causes the development of aphthous sores, also known as canker sores. Even though it isn’t entirely known why this happens, the Journal of the Canadian Dental Association suggests that it could be caused by a deficiency of various vitamins and minerals that are unable to be absorbed.
  • Cavities: People who have celiac disease tend to be more prone to cavities. If you have had the condition since childhood, this could be a result of enamel defects. Another reason is vitamin D deficiency, which commonly affects those with celiac disease. Vitamin D is essential for healthy enamel because it allows your body to absorb calcium.


Most of the time, symptoms of celiac disease will subside once the illness is treated at the source. This is usually done through a gluten-free diet and sometimes nutritional therapy. For children, an early diagnosis is crucial in order to get them on the right track with a gluten-free diet. This will decrease their chances of having developmental problems in the permanent teeth and experiencing irreversible damage to the small intestine.

Regular checkups and cleanings can go a long way in preventing oral-related problems connected to celiac disease. In order to treat sores in the mouth, your family dentist in South Austin may recommend the use of a mouth sore rinse. This cleans the area and reduces the patient’s discomfort while also promoting healing. Cavities can be resolved in numerous ways depending on the severity. Most of the time, your dentist will likely opt for a tooth-colored filling.

If you or your child has been diagnosed with celiac disease, this is something that your dentist should be aware of so they can look out for related signs. Oral health problems are just one of the many uncomfortable symptoms of celiac disease. By working with your or your child’s doctor and dentist to manage the condition, dental issues can be lessened in the future.


Dr. Jack Fan earned his doctorate at New York University College of Dentistry and completed a one-year General Practice Residency at Long Island Jewish Hospital. He regularly attends continuing education programs in order to further his clinical knowledge. If you have celiac disease, Dr. Fan would be happy to work with you in order to resolve dental related issues. For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit his website or call (512) 361-4288.

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