Crohn's disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease. It causes inflammation in your stomach, intestines, and other parts of your lower digestive system, leading to distressing symptoms like stomach pain and diarrhea. Surprisingly, this disease can also cause oral health problems. Here are three oral health problems that people with Crohn's disease need to worry about.
Ulcers are open sores that heal slowly, and when they form on the inside of your mouth, eating and drinking can become painful. These ulcers are usually small and yellow, with swollen red borders. They will go away without treatment, but your dentist can give you medications to help ease your symptoms while you heal. Anesthetic gels and steroid lozenges can help to reduce your discomfort, as can mouthwash that contains chlorhexidine, an antiseptic.
No one knows what causes mouth ulcers, but people with Crohn's disease develop them more often than people without the disease. This suggests that Crohn's disease may be a cause of the ulcers, but more research is needed to confirm this.
Gum disease is inflammation or infection of your gum tissue. The early form of gum disease, gingivitis, makes your gums red and swollen, while the advanced form, periodontitis, attacks the bones and ligaments underneath your teeth. It occurs when you don't brush and floss often enough, allowing plaque to build up along your gum line. Your dentist can treat it by thoroughly cleaning your teeth and gums.
Crohn's disease has been linked to an increased risk of developing gum disease. It increases your risk by weakening your immune system and making you more susceptible to infections.
Tooth decay occurs when bacteria inside your mouth feed on the sugars that are left behind by your food and drinks. As the bacteria eat, they release acids that eat into your teeth, causing tooth decay. This is more common among people with Crohn's disease.
People with Crohn's disease tend to drink sweetened drinks like juice and soda more often than people without the disease. They also eat more refined carbohydrates like candy. Researchers think this is because Crohn's disease can cause zinc deficiencies, which affect a person's sense of taste and make them want to eat sweeter foods. Make sure to brush and floss after eating to minimize your risk of tooth decay.
Crohn's disease is a serious problem, but not just in your intestines. This disease also causes lots of problems inside your mouth. If you think you have ulcers, gum disease, or tooth decay, see your dentist (like those at Crest Hill Family Dental) right away for treatment.