Oral Health Manifestations of Celiac Disease

young woman gripped with stomach acheCeliac disease can affect any organ or system in the body. Consequently, not everyone with this autoimmune condition gets the classic gastrointestinal symptoms. For instance, some people get oral symptoms, and their dentists may be the first doctors to suspect celiac disease.

Here are some oral manifestations that can indicate someone has gluten intolerance.

Dental enamel defects

Tooth enamel issues related to gluten intolerance include tooth discoloration, mottled teeth, pitting of teeth, and poor dental enamel formation. These problems are symmetrical and usually affect the incisors and the molars. These imperfections are permanent.

They do not improve even after you stop eating gluten. However, dental professionals can cover enamel defects using various cosmetic solutions.

Atrophic glossitis

Atrophic glossitis is a health condition that causes the tongue to lose its normal texture and appearance. The affected tongue appears red, smooth and shiny. Such a tongue can be an indirect symptom of a gastrointestinal problem such as celiac disease.

Recurrent aphthous stomatitis/canker sores

These small, shallow, painful ulcers appear in the oral cavity. The sores often make talking and eating uncomfortable.

If you continue to get persistent or frequently occurring canker sores after getting celiac disease help, you may have another underlying condition such as anemia, inflammatory bowel disease or compromised immunity.

Dry mouth syndrome

People with immune disorders such as celiac disease are at risk of dry mouth (xerostomia) and burning mouth syndrome. Dry mouth happens when the salivary glands in the mouth are unable to produce enough saliva.

Squamous cell carcinoma of the mouth and pharynx

This type of cancer affects the mouth and the oropharynx. These problems sometimes relate to celiac disease.

Diagnosing gluten intolerance is relatively easy if the patient has the classic features of abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea, and weight loss. Unfortunately, most people have the atypical celiac disease. They do not present with many gastrointestinal symptoms.

In such patients, oral symptoms that could indicate gluten intolerance can be critical to timely diagnosis.​