Celiac disease makes you feel very ill when you eat foods that contain gluten, but the effects of this condition aren't limited to your digestive system. Celiac disease can affect your entire body, even your mouth. Aphthous stomatitis is a common oral problem that celiacs face. Here's what you need to know about this painful condition.
What is aphthous stomatitis?
Aphthous stomatitis is a condition that causes ulcers to form on the soft tissues inside your mouth, such as the insides of your cheeks, your tongue, or the floor of your mouth. They are either round or oval, with a yellow-grey center and a red border. They can be as small as 2 mm (0.7 inch) in diameter, but they can also reach sizes of more than 1 cm (0.4 inch). You can have one of these ulcers or you can have many.
Why does celiac disease cause aphthous stomatitis?
Celiac disease can reduce your ability to absorb nutrients from the foods you eat, and researchers think that the nutrient deficiencies that result can be responsible for causing aphthous stomatitis. More research is needed to confirm this. Low levels of certain vitamins, such as vitamin B12 or iron, have been suggested as causes, but other vitamin deficiencies can also be responsible.
Do all Celiacs have this complication?
Aphthous stomatitis is a very common complication among celiacs. A large Canadian study found that about 26% of adults and 16% of children with biopsy-proven celiac disease suffered from recurrent ulcers.
How do dentists treat this complication?
Aphthous stomatitis is treated by managing the symptoms. Your dentist will prescribe either an antiseptic mouthwash or a corticosteroid cream. Antiseptic mouthwash kills bacteria in your mouth and keeps your ulcers from getting infected. Corticosteroid creams are applied directly to the ulcers and work by reducing the swelling and discomfort.
If these methods aren't enough to help you heal, you may also need to take prednisone pills. Prednisone is a steroid, and it works by reducing inflammation.
Will the ulcers come back?
Aphthous stomatitis is a chronic condition, so the ulcers will come back at some point in the future. Some people only get these ulcers 2 to 4 times a year, while others have them continuously.
Celiac disease doesn't just cause digestive problems; it also causes oral health problems. If you have painful ulcers in your mouth, see your dentist right away for help managing your symptoms.
For more information, contact Nordel Dental Clinic in Delta or a similar location.