Hands holding stomach to highlight stomach pain

Crohn’s Disease, Colitis and Oral Health

About 5 million people worldwide are living with Crohn’s Disease or ulcerative colitis, also known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). These chronic diseases affect the digestive system and cause intestinal tissue to become inflamed, form sores and bleed easily. Crohn’s specifically can affect any part of the gastrointestinal tract including the lips, mouth and even the esophagus. And in addition to the physical and emotional toll IBD has on the well-being of its patients such as weight loss, fever, nausea, diarrhea and anemia, it can also have a number of negative effects on oral health.

Sometimes it is difficult to tell what is causing changes in the mouth such as ulcers, soreness, dry mouth or cavities. Sometimes medications taken to treat Crohn’s disease interfere with normal mouth bacteria that can cause problems. IBD can also lead to nutritional deficiencies that affect dental and oral health. In other instances, it is the disease itself causing the problems. Your doctor can identify whether Crohn’s or colitis is interfering with the health of your teeth and gums with testing.

Closeup portrait of young man with tooth ache crown bridge problem about to cry from pain touching inside mouth with hand, isolated white background. Negative emotion facial expression feeling

Cavities & Tooth Decay

For 8-29% of patients with Crohn’s Disease, cavities can appear before any intestinal complications. Many patients have reported an increase in tooth decay and higher incidence of cavities as they have undergone treatment for Crohn’s. And studies have shown that changes caused by colitis in the mucus that lines the gastrointestinal tract have led to tooth decay in some patients. Patients who are using Prednisone for their symptoms might want to consult their physician and dentist as some patients have reported a link between the medication and cavities. In our research, this was a very common side effect of medical treatment and the connection should not be taken lightly.


Closeup portrait, elderly business woman with tooth ache, crown problem, cavity pain, touching outside mouth with hand, isolated white background. Negative human emotion facial expression feeling

Mouth Ulcers & Vitamin Deficiencies

Inflammatory Bowel Disease is known to cause legions throughout the intestine, colon, esophagus as well as in and around patients’ mouths. Poor vitamin consumption, particularly of vitamin D, can lead to complications that range from small, painless lesions inside the mouth to ulcerations and swelling of the lips. This can lead to more serious issues like Melkersson-Rosenthal syndrome, oral tuberculosis, cheilitis granulomatosa, sarcoidosis, or even contact allergic reactions. Pyodermatitis-pyostomatitis vegetans is also associated with Crohn’s disease, but only rarely. Symptoms include pustules (pimples) that can be yellow or whitish in appearance in the mouth. After the pustules rupture, they leave a superficial ulcer. The lymph glands under the chin can become swollen and there may be mild pain. Yeast infections and deficiencies in Vitamin A, Vitamin B12, zinc and Vitamin K are common.


Young woman holds side of her face and looks sad

Gum Inflammation & Gingivitis

Gum problems, such as swollen or bleeding gums, can be another complication of Crohn’s and may be the result of poor nutrition. Getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet is crucial to good overall health and oral health, but the combination of Crohn’s and mouth problems can leave you with little appetite or interest in eating. You might need to work harder on the quality of your diet because the consequences of Crohn’s can prevent your body from taking advantage of all the nutrients in the foods you eat; instead, food is moved through your system without being fully digested. Some medicines can contribute to inflammation and gingivitis, so if you are using the following medications, you might want to talk with your doctor about possible alternatives: Steroids, Mesalazine and Methotrexate.


Portrait of a sporty young woman holding an apple and a bottle of water against a white background

Prevention

As always, we encourage you to discuss your symptoms and treatment options with your doctor or dentist. But the following tips will not only help your overall health, they might also prevent dental complications associated with IBD:

  • Avoid sweetened drinks like soda, juice and energy drinks
  • Limit the amount of dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt) you eat
  • Get plenty of sunlight or take a vitamin D supplement
  • Eat 5 or 6 small meals each day that are low in saturated fat, with lots of fruit and antioxidant-rich foods (beans, berries, apples)
  • Stop smoking!

If your child has IBD, let’s talk! We’d love to help you find the right treatment for their oral health.

April is Oral Cancer Awareness

April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month

“Close to 48,250 Americans will be diagnosed with oral or pharyngeal cancer this year. It will cause over 9,575 deaths, killing roughly 1 person per hour, 24 hours per day. Of those 48,250 newly diagnosed individuals, only slightly more than half will be alive in 5 years.” Oral Cancer Foundation

 

This is the harsh reality of oral cancer, a disease that is easy to diagnose, but often discovered too late.

 
The Facts: The death rate of oral cancer is higher than cancers we hear about more frequently, including cervical cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, laryngeal cancer, cancer of the testes, and endocrine system cancers such as thyroid. In fact, there are more deaths from mouth cancer each year than there are from road accidents. If you expand the definition of oral and oropharyngeal cancers to include cancer of the larynx, the numbers of diagnosed cases grow to approximately 54,000 individuals, and 13,500 deaths per year in the U.S. alone. Worldwide the problem is much greater, with over 450,000 new cases being found each year.

The median age of diagnosis is 62 years old, with the highest percentage of deaths falling within the 55-64 age group. Oral cancer is more common in men than in women, with two men affected for every woman. And those with a history of tobacco or heavy alcohol use account for nearly 75% of all oral cancers diagnosed. Smokers are 6 times more likely than nonsmokers to develop mouth or pharyngeal cancer, and approximately 90% of people with oral cancer are tobacco users.  Over the past 10 years, its incidence has increased in the younger population due to increased contraction of human human papilloma virus (HPV), which is now considered the leading cause of oropharyngeal cancer.

 

Signs and Symptoms: If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms that last for more than two weeks (14 days), you should consider scheduling an appointment with your dentist or doctor for a screening. Remember, early detection is critical.

  • A sore that doesn’t heal
  • A lump or thickening of the skin or lining of your mouth
  • A white or reddish patch on the inside of your mouth
  • Loose teeth
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Tongue pain
  • Jaw pain or stiffness
  • Difficult or painful chewing
  • Difficult or painful swallowing
  • Sore throat

 

Get Involved: If you’d like to spread awareness this month and beyond, there are plenty of ways to do so.

 

Share this infographic to show your support

 

 

Oral Cancer Facts Infographic

Blond-haired boy with Superman costume

April is Autism Awareness Month

Autism is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the United States. In 2014, the CDC identified 1 in 68 children in the U.S. as having Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), but today that number might be a staggering 1 in 45. That means one child affected in every two classrooms, 2 million in the United States alone, and tens of millions of families worldwide. Without any widely accepted diagnosis method, treatment plan or cure, families are spending on average $60,000 per year to treat and manage the symptoms of their family members. And although research efforts have increased over the last five years, we still have a long way to go before finding a cure.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a serious developmental disorder that impacts the nervous system and impairs the ability to communicate and interact. The range and severity of symptoms can vary widely. Common symptoms include difficulty with communication, difficulty with social interactions, obsessive interests, and repetitive behaviors. Early recognition, as well as behavioral, educational, and family therapies may reduce symptoms and support development and learning. Research has identified more than a hundred autism risk genes. In around 15 percent of cases, a specific genetic cause of a person’s autism can be identified. However, most cases involve a complex and variable combination of genetic risk and environmental factors that influence early brain development. Read more.

Team Elijah

With Autism Spectrum Disorder rising in prevalence, you probably know a family who is living with the disorder already. Kid’s Dentistree’s very own Dr. Lydia has a son named Elijah with ASD. She tells tell her story below:

If you’d like to help families in our community who are affected by Autism, there’s a lot you can do to help! The easiest way to show your support is by wearing blue and tagging #LIUB (Light it Up Blue) or changing your Facebook cover photo to the “Shine a Light on Autism” image at the end of this post. But if you’d like to make a real difference in our community, consider donating or participating in the events listed below. Every donation, big or small, can help make a difference in the lives of families just like Dr. Lydia and Elijah.

 

Light It Up Blue for AUtism - Facebook Cover Photo

Woman holding mug with text that reads "Do's and Don'ts for a Whiter Smile"

11 Do’s And Don’ts for a Whiter Smile

When the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) asked people what they would most like to improve about their smile, a whiter smile was the overwhelming response.  A whiter, brighter smile gives the impression of youth and good health. As we age, the outer enamel of the teeth gets thinner so that yellowish dentin shows through. Teeth become darker, yellow, and more stained. Certain foods and beverages also undermine a white smile by staining teeth.

The American Dental Association (AACD) and celebrity dentist Jonathan B. Levine, DMD, offer several suggestions for whiter teeth. Follow these tips to achieve a more dazzling, engaging smile.


1. Avoid foods and beverages that stain teeth. Coffee, red wine, cola, tea, and cranberry juice are the main offenders. Soy sauce and blueberries can also stain teeth.

Smiling woman holding cup of coffee

2. Drink staining beverages from a straw. Drinking from a straw reduces the amount of contact staining liquid has with teeth.

Close-up of a woman drinking lemonade with a straw

3. Brush immediately after consuming a staining food or beverage.

Boy with braces brushing his teeth

4. Rinse after eating acidic fruits to prevent erosion of tooth enamel which can make teeth stain more easily.

Woman sipping water

5. Eat an apple or raw vegetable after consuming a staining food or beverage to help remove surface stains.

Healthy woman eating an apple

6. Replace your toothbrush every three months to clean properly and floss to prevent stains between teeth.

Old Toothbrush

7. Avoid certain lipstick colors. Dr. Levine cautions that red with a blue undertone will highlight yellow tones in teeth. Try a medium coral instead.

Woman applying red lipstick

8. Choose off-white clothing. Dr. Levine also finds that bright white clothing near the face makes teeth appear more yellow. This is especially important for brides or anyone selecting an outfit for a photo session.

Woman in rustic vintage California wedding dress

9. Avoid smoking. Tar and nicotine cause significant yellowing.

Young girl blowing a cloud of smoke

10. Consider cosmetic whitening. An overwhelming number of over-the-counter whitening toothpastes, gels, trays, and strips are on the market. While inexpensive, they are not as effective as in-office whitening because they remove stains rather than change the color of teeth. Also, the trays often fit poorly.

Woman smiles and points at teeth

11. Consult your dentist about in-office whitening. Bleach may not correct all discoloration issues. Some medications can cause discoloration. Yellow teeth respond better to bleaching than brown or gray teeth. Whitening may not be for you if you have caps, crowns, or fillings. If you are a candidate for whitening, your dentist can use stronger bleaching agents than over-the-counter products and may also use special light or laser. Your dentist can also send you home with properly fitted trays so you can maintain your new, whiter smile.

Teeth whitening

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