Ah, the life of a celiac. Bread is your worst enemy and most coveted desire. Going “gluten-free” isn’t a fad for you — it’s your life.
For those of you with the condition, you know a celiac-friendly diet means more than just avoiding bread. Gluten sneaks into salad dressings, hot dogs and even beauty products! As you probably know too well, the tiniest gluten-containing crumb can cause a (painful) cross-contamination episode.
People living with celiac disease damage their intestines if gluten is digested. That intestine damage makes it hard to absorb key nutrients such as calcium and iron. Fortunately, by eating a gluten-free diet, those with the autoimmune disorder can reverse the damage.
But celiac disease affects more than just your food choices. Your teeth can suffer too.
Celiac disease can cause tooth discoloration, weak enamel and frequent canker sores. Oral health issues are nearly twice as common among adults and kids living with the disease.
Now for the good news: There are ways to prevent future oral health problems and keep your smile healthy.
Try these 3 tips to get your gluten-free grin on:
1. Be a picky pickier eater.
It’s easy to stick to your gluten-free diet, especially when you know the agonizing stomach pains that come after contamination. We know — it can be embarrassing when you’re dining with friends, but you’re not being high-maintenance! Go for it — ask the waiter if the breaded chicken fingers were cooked in the same fryer as your “gluten-free” fries. You’re protecting your body…and teeth.
2. Use the right products.
You already have your own toaster and frying pan separate from the family, what’s the harm in adding a few more products to your celiac-friendly collection? Just because a product contains gluten-free ingredients, doesn’t mean the packaging is gluten-free. Check labels carefully. Even though you spit out most dental products, it’s easy for traces of toothpaste or mouthwash to remain in your mouth. Consult this list of 100% gluten-free personal products.
3. Tell everyone you know.
Does your dentist know you have celiac disease? It’s crucial for many reasons. The first guidelines for dentists were just published in 2011. In other words, celiac detection and protection is new to the dentistry world. If you were diagnosed during adulthood, and teeth damage has already been done, talk to your dentist. He or she may be able to recommend options.
And don’t forget to inform your family! Celiac disease is hereditary. In fact, first and second-degree relatives have a high risk of developing a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Make sure your family knows they’re at risk, as well as what common celiac symptoms look like.
If you or someone you know lives with celiac disease, visit celiac.org for more tips and information.