Celiac disease is a common disorder affecting both children and adults. As many people with this disease do not present with the classic symptoms, oral manifestations may be the only signs of this disorder.
There are 2 main oral manifestations of Celiac Disease:
- If celiac disease appears in children while the permanent teeth are developing, (before 7 years of age), abnormalities in the dental enamel can occur. It is more common to see these enamel defects in incisors and molars. These can appear as mild white spots or opacities on the teeth, or like a band/groove across the tooth (see photos below!).
- Recurrent canker sores: In a large survey of a Canadian population with biopsy-proven celiac disease, 16% of children (< 16 years of age) and 26% of adults reported having recurrent oral ulcers (canker sores). The exact cause of canker sores in celiac disease is unknown; however, it may be related to low iron, folic acid and vitamin B12 due to malabsorption in patients with untreated celiac disease.
Any diagnosis would have to be confirmed by a physician with serologic screening tests and biopsy. However, having a dental team that is on the lookout for these signs is useful to help establish a timely diagnosis and prevent complications from untreated Celiac Disease.