Celiac Teeth

Teeth can be damaged by celiac disease. (Canadian Dental Association)

The Canadian Celiac Association has sent a reminder to P.E.I. dentists, asking them to look for early warning signs of the disorder in their patients' teeth.

Tooth abnormalities are one way to catch this often missed problem early. Celiac often goes undiagnosed, because more than half those who have it don't have the usual symptoms.

Dr. Mohsin Rashid, a Halifax gastro-enterologist on the association's advisory board, told CBC News this week the disease can cause discoloration, pits and grooves in enamel and, in the worst cases, deformed teeth.

"If you ask the dentist 'Can you tell me, say, six seven common causes of why this can happen to the teeth?' I think most likely celiac disease will not be one of those," said Rashid.

The Celiac Association is asking dentists to mention the possibility, and encourage patients talk with their family doctor. Undiagnosed celiac disease can cause serious health implications, including osteoporosis and a higher risk of bowel cancer.

Dr. Travis McLean, president of the Dental Association of P.E.I., learned about the connection before graduating five years ago, but he isn't sure if all Island dentists are aware.

"My hope would be all of them," said McLean.

"We're very well-trained. It is something that is trained in dental school."

McLean plans to raise the issue at a continuing education seminar this Saturday.