Teeth and inflammatory bowel disease

It’s not a link that many people make but your dental health can be seriously affected by your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).

Studies have found that people with IBD are at an increased risk of developing dental cavities and oral infections and that people with IBD have more dental treatments than those without IBD1. The causes are not completely known but it is thought they are multiple. They are either related to the change in the immune system as a result of IBD or to diet. There may also be a link between taking steroid-based drugs - which are often used to treat flares of Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis - and a weakening of the teeth.

Below is a summary of some of the reasons why you might be suffering from bad teeth...

IBD Medication

Steroid-based medication, such as prednisolone, can cause loss of calcium from your bones which can lead to osteoporosis. It can also reduce the calcium in your teeth causing them to weaken and this can lead to tooth decay.

As a result of this it’s important to make sure you are getting enough calcium out of your diet and supplements to keep your teeth and bones strong.

Diet

Many people with IBD struggle to find foods that they can stomach (literally). For some people this can result in a high sugar diet, for others a low amount of essential nutrients. Whatever the reason, your teeth are affected by both.

Acidic mouth

Some people with IBD suffer from stomach acid/bile coming up into their mouths. An extra acidic mouth can also be caused by poor gut health which can be found in those affected by IBD. Acidic foods and drinks (such as fruit juices, fizzy drinks and sodas) can increase the amount of acid in your mouth. Acid is bad for your teeth and can cause the enamel on them to erode. An acidic mouth is also the perfect host for plaque (bacteria which can cause gum disease) and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums).

References

  1. Annsofi Johannsen, Michael C. Fored, Jan Håkansson, Anders Ekbom, and Anders Gustafsson. Consumption of Dental Treatment in Patients with Inflammatory Bowel Disease, a Register Study. PLoS One. 2015; 10(8): e0134001. PMCID: PMC4534207.

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