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Distinct Tooth Enamel Defects Can Help Reveal Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease show distinct dental enamel defects that can help dentists promote testing and improve diagnoses.


Image: CC--dion gillard

Celiac.com 02/08/2017 - Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune-mediated enteropathy, triggered by exposure to dietary gluten in genetically prone individuals. Celiac disease is also one of many gastrointestinal diseases that can have dental manifestations. In fact, distinct dental enamel defects are strong indicators of celiac disease, and may lead to a role for dentists in better celiac screening.

While the disease often manifests in early childhood, a large number of patients are diagnosed over the age of 50. Despite increased awareness, the majority of patients still remain undiagnosed. Dentists should consider celiac disease when they observe certain symmetric enamel defects.

Symptoms of celiac disease vary widely and are certainly not restricted to the intestine. They may include, among others, dental and oral manifestations.

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A team of researchers recently published an update in the British Dental Journal regarding the role of such defects in the timely diagnosis of celiac disease, which is requires a gluten-free diet to prevent complications.

The research team included T. van Gils, H. S. Brand, N. K. H. de Boer, C. J. J. Mulder & G. Bouma. They are variously affiliated with the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, VU University Medical Centre, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and the Departments of Oral Biochemistry, Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam (ACTA) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

They note that most of the enamel defects are nonspecific, but symmetric in a way that is very specific to celiac disease. They also note the importance of recognizing this relationship, as it offers an easy way to help to identify unrecognized celiac sufferers, and to promote better screening and diagnosis. They encourage dental practitioners to take note.

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