Nearly 5 million people around the world live with ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s Disease – inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affect the digestive system by causing intestinal tissue to be inflamed, forming ulcers or sores and causing bleeding. These conditions can affect any part of the GI tract, including the mouth, lips and esophagus. Apart from the emotional and physical toll that these diseases has on the wellbeing of a person such as diarrhea, anemia, weight loss and fever, it can also contribute negatively on the patient’s oral health.

There are times when it’s difficult to determine that root cause in the changes occurring in the mouth such as dry mouth, ulcers or cavities. In some cases, medications given to treat IBD can interfere with the natural mouth bacteria, causing problems. IBD may also leaf to nutritional deficiencies, which could affect oral and dental health. In some instances, it is the disorder itself that’s causing problems. Your doctor can determine whether colitis or Crohn’s interfering with your teeth and gums’ health through testing.

Vitamin Deficiencies and Mouth Ulcers

Inflammatory bowel disease can cause a host of ailments throughout the intestine, esophagus as well around the patient’s mouths. Deficiencies of essential vitamins, especially Vitamin D, can result to complications ranging from small, painless wounds inside the mouth to swelling of the lips. This could lead to more serious problems such as oral tuberculosis, sarcoidosis, cheilitis granulomatosa or contact allergic reactions.

Deficiencies in Vitamin B12, A, and K; and zinc as well as yeast infections are also common.

Tooth Cavities and Decay

Up to 29 percent of patients with IBD suffer from tooth cavities before any intestinal complications. Many patients reported higher incidence of tooth decay and cavities as they got treated for Crohn’s. Studies have shown that changes in the mucus lining caused by colitis have led to cavities in some patients.

Patients taking Prednisone to alleviate their symptoms should consult their dentist and physician as there are some reports of a link between cavities and medication.

Gum Inflammation

Gum diseases such as bleeding or swollen gums, can be another problem for IBD sufferers and could be a result of vitamin and mineral deficiencies. Having the right vitamins and minerals is very important to achieve optimum general health and oral health, but Crohn’s disease along with mouth problems can leave your with little appetite. You have to strive to achieve quality in your diet to obtain the necessary nutrients from the food you eat. Unfortunately, in the case of Crohn’s and colitis, food passes through your system without being completely digested and absorbed.

How to Achieve Healthy Oral Health

The following tips will not only help your general health, they can also prevent complications on the mouth associated with IBD.

·         Limit the amount of dairy and dairy products you eat.

·         Refrain from sweetened drinks such as energy drinks, juice and soda.

·         Take Vitamin D supplement or have plenty of sunlight

·         Stop smoking

·         Eat small frequent meals every day that are rich in antioxidants, more on fruits and low in saturated fats.

If your child has inflammatory bowel disease, we’d love to help you find the best treatment for his/her oral health.