The Canadian Celiac Association (CCA) is excited to unveil the theme of this year’s Celiac Disease Awareness Month: Oral and Dental Manifestations of Celiac Disease. The event will coincide with the CCA’s release this spring of a scientific, peer-reviewed brochure that outlines the ways that dental health care professionals can spot the signs of celiac disease.
“Dental enamel defects and recurrent aphthous ulcers (canker sores), especially in children, can be signs of this dangerous autoimmune disease,” notes Dr. Mohsin Rashid, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Dalhousie University. “Early identification by dental professionals can be very helpful for a timely diagnosis of celiac disease.”
Most people would not normally consider a diagnosis of a gastrointestinal disorder to be a likely outcome of a dentist appointment, but the research is quickly advancing. Increasing awareness of celiac disease among the dental professional community will help lead to faster diagnosis and fewer medical complications down the road.
Celiac disease is a condition in which the absorptive surface of the small intestine is damaged by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. As a result, the body is unable to absorb nutrients such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals, which are necessary for good health. An estimated 1% of Canadians are affected by celiac disease, and a stunning 90% of these cases remain undiagnosed.
“Symptoms of celiac disease can range from gastrointestinal distress to migraines to extremely itchy skin rashes, or there may be no overt symptoms at all,” says Brian Benwell, President of the CCA. “However, the proven link between celiac disease and other serious medical conditions – such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, infertility and type 1 diabetes – make a speedy diagnosis critical to good health.”
Peer-reviewed research by several members of the Professional Advisory Board of the CCA is also available for download.