In recent years, more and more research has been conducted regarding oral systemic health. In particular, scientists have focused on the connection between periodontal disease and heart health. But the truth is, our bodies are completely interconnected. So any physical health condition is likely to affect our oral health – and vice versa.
In this post, we explore the lesser-known connection between Crohn’s disease and oral health. If you struggle with this condition or another autoimmune disease, Dr. Thomas Wegner and the team at Town and Country Dental can help. At our Oak Park, IL, practice, we offer concierge dentistry, meaning we tailor our treatment to your specific needs. We can partner with your healthcare team to ensure that you are receiving the best possible systemic treatment.
What is Crohn’s disease?
Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract. It is an autoimmune disease, meaning the immune system mistakenly attacks tissues in the digestive system. Almost 1% of Americans are diagnosed with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis.
Crohn’s Disease and Mouth Ulcers
Oral ulcers are a common symptom of Crohn’s disease. In fact, they are often one of the first indicators of Crohn’s, especially among children and adolescents. Mouth ulcers may appear because of chronic inflammation. They can also be the result of medications or nutrient deficiencies.
Typically, the best way to treat Crohn’s-related mouth ulcers is to stay on top of your medications. However, if you have an ulcer that takes more than three weeks to heal, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist.
Crohn’s Disease and Cavities
Patients with Crohn’s disease face a higher risk of cavities than the general population. Some scientists speculate that it is because of common Crohn’s medications. Steroids can deplete your bones and teeth of calcium, leaving them more prone to damage and decay. Medications can also cause dry mouth. When your body produces less saliva, you won’t have the moisture you need to wash away bacteria and food particles.
Other researchers believe that the diet of Crohn’s patients contributes to the increase in tooth decay. For many with severe and prolonged flares, they can tolerate very few foods. As a result, they may eat and drink more sugar in a desperate attempt to provide their bodies with energy.
Whatever the cause, the connection is undisputed. This is why it is important for patients with Crohn’s to schedule their routine exams and cleanings.
Crohn’s Disease and Gum Disease
Individuals with inflammatory bowel disease are also more likely to develop gum disease and, in turn, to experience tooth loss. Again, scientists are still exploring the connection between the two diseases. Some believe that IBD patients are more susceptible to inflammation and strong immune responses. Others posit that the increased risk for periodontal disease is due to changes in the oral microbiome among IBD patients.
In either case, routine preventive care is essential in detecting and treating gum disease.
Learn More about Oral Systemic Health
To learn more about the connection between your oral and physical wellness, contact Town and Country Dental.
Reach us online or call us at (708) 383-0330.