It's thought that around one out of 70 Australians are affected by coeliac disease, which is a form of gluten intolerance. If you've been recently diagnosed with the condition, there are some important changes that must be made, which are largely dietary. Although coeliac disease is a chronic, incurable condition, it can be effectively managed by following an appropriate diet. However, anyone recently diagnosed with the disease should be aware of how it can affect their teeth—particularly their dental enamel.
How It Affects Your Teeth
The ways in which coeliac disease affects dental enamel are not widely understood. Your body's auto-immune response to the ingestion of gluten is thought to play a role, leading to malformation and general weakening of your dental enamel during its development. Your inability to process gluten (via the small intestine) is also a potential culprit, with the issues affecting your dental enamel essentially a curious byproduct. Whatever the reason, what sort of attention does your dental enamel need now that you've been diagnosed with coeliac disease?
The biggest risk is the demineralisation of your dental enamel. This is when your enamel weakens and erodes, exposing the dentin beneath, which forms the majority of a tooth's overall structure. Without dental enamel, a tooth is infinitely more prone to deterioration. One of the ways in which a dentist can help your teeth is to offset the effects of this demineralisation. How can they achieve this?
The remineralisation of teeth is possible, to some extent. This involves a fluoride treatment, which your dentist can perform as part of your regular checkups. Be sure to ask your dentist about whether any additional fluoride is wise in your case, beyond existing sources of fluoride (such as in tap water), and the treatment your dentist performs themselves. Don't take additional fluoride supplements without explicit instructions. Too much fluoride can also affect the mineralisation of a tooth and can cause discolouration in the form of prominent white spots on the enamel. Remineralisation has its limits, and when enamel has already been lost, you will need alternative treatment.
Synthetic Enamel Substitutes
While it may one day be possible to regrow enamel, for the moment, a dentist must apply a synthetic substitute. A dental sealant (transparent latex coating) for the teeth may be beneficial, as is dental bonding—which is the application of a tooth-coloured resin to affected surfaces of your teeth. Extreme cases may warrant porcelain dental crowns, which fully encase the teeth to protect them from further erosion.
Anyone recently diagnosed with coeliac disease should be mindful of the effects that the condition can have on their dental enamel, and in conjunction with their dentist, must take steps to offset these effects.