Crohn’s disease and dental care


Crohn’s disease is a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that primarily affects your digestive tract, but it can also have a surprising impact on your oral health. While the hallmark symptoms of Crohn’s disease are well known, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, and fatigue, there are other lesser known symptoms that may actually be in your stuffy.

That’s why it’s very important to tell your dentist if you have Crohn’s disease, as it can help you and your GP keep tabs on any related dental and oral issues. Additionally, you may need to increase your dental treatment to keep your mouth healthy, so being open and honest with your dentist can go a long way in effectively managing the condition.

If you’ve been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, here’s everything you should dig into (no pun intended) about the link between this chronic condition and its impact on oral health.

To research shows a strong link between inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, and dental conditions such as tooth decay, infections, and periodontitis. This is because these conditions can share the same pathogensor micro-organisms, which play a key role in their existence.

Indeed, studies show that up to 35 percent people diagnosed with IBD will also experience the disease outside of their digestive tract in a phenomenon known as “extra-intestinal manifestation.”

Anywhere from 5 to 50 percent of these people will see Crohn’s disease in their oral cavity, and some theories believe that the disease may first manifest as inflammation in the mouth before manifesting in the intestines. In one research reviewone study found that of 113 people diagnosed with IBD, 54.9% had an increase in oral symptoms compared to a control group without IBD.

The oral and dental manifestations of Crohn’s disease, sometimes called oral Crohn’s disease, can appear in several ways. Here are the main signs and symptoms to look out for:

  • canker sores in the mouth or on the lips
  • inflammation or cracks in one or both corners of the mouth
  • throat irritation with noticeable lumps and bumps on the back
  • swollen lips
  • skin tags inside the mouth or behind the teeth
  • thickened mucus inside the mouth
  • abscess or swelling with discharge

Oral Crohn’s disease is a less common form of Crohn’s disease that causes ulceration in and around the mouth. This usually includes some onset of Crohn’s disease in the gut. Corn 60 percent Oral Crohn’s disease may appear initially without any bowel disease. Over time, however, 30% of these people will develop bowel symptoms.

If you have Crohn’s disease, it’s a good idea to keep track of canker sores, as they are one of the most common oral manifestations of the disease.

Although oral Crohn’s disease can be painful, there are many ways to treat it, starting with identifying the cause of the canker sores. Since medications can cause canker sores to flare up, it’s important that your dentist rule out this possibility before beginning a treatment plan. If you are taking medication for Crohn’s disease or other conditions, be sure to tell your dentist.

Once medications have been ruled out as the cause or adjusted as needed, these treatments may also be considered to treat canker sores or other oral symptoms of Crohn’s disease:

  • exclusion diet to identify and reduce consumption of foods that may make swelling worse
  • special mouthwash or paste for mouth ulcers
  • injections into swollen lips or cheeks for cosmetic improvement

In more severe cases of oral Crohn’s or for people with extreme swelling, surgery may be necessary, although this approach is not common and is usually only considered if other non-invasive treatments do not work.

People diagnosed with Crohn’s disease may seek more dental care than those who are not diagnosed with the disease. Studies show that people with Crohn’s disease have more dental procedures, including 65% more removable dentures, 52% more fillings in the front teeth, and 46% more endodontic treatment, or dental treatments. tissues and pulps such as root canals.

Crohn’s disease can also cause inflammation of the gums, gingivitis and breath odor, which can also lead to increased dental treatment. If you have Crohn’s disease, it’s important to keep up with dental cleanings and visit your dentist at least twice a year.

Creating a handy list of questions to ask your dentist about the connection between Crohn’s disease and oral health, or any concerns you may have, can help you get the right treatment and prevention plan.

Here are the questions to ask your dentist:

  • How does Crohn’s disease affect oral health?
  • Do I have oral signs or symptoms of Crohn’s disease?
  • What signs or symptoms should I watch out for?
  • How often should I have dental cleanings?
  • What else could encourage me to make an appointment?
  • What mouthwash, toothpaste, dental floss or toothbrush should I use?
  • How to keep fresh breath?
  • Should I avoid specific foods or dental products?

Crohn’s disease isn’t always just in your gut. Sometimes it can show up in your mouth, teeth, and general oral health. This does not mean, however, that there is no solution.

With the right information and following your dental care, you can manage and even prevent some oral symptoms of Crohn’s disease. Talk to your dentist to develop a care plan that’s right for you.


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