The rise of gluten awareness in the country is normally something people associate with the food industry. Grocery stores have gluten-free sections, and restaurants have alternative menus. However, a dentist in Boulder, Colo., has opened a practice that eschews the use of products containing gluten in order to assist the celiac community, according to Daily Camera.
Celiac disease affects about one in every 133 Americans, according to a study conducted by the Center for Celiac Research and Treatment. Known to be in many foods, the allergen known as gluten can also be found in a lot of dental products, such as toothpaste, topical anesthetic and the fluoride used in dental offices. Jeffrey Patrician, D.D.S., who opened Boulder Dental Arts six months ago, told Daily Camera that he learned about the risk these products pose to celiac patients from his brother, who has the disease.
"It is funny. But it's also legitimate," Patrician told the source, agreeing that his practice's sign is an unusual one for the people in Boulder to see. "They either laugh at it or are thrilled that they have this alternative. Or both." Regardless, he has seen a steady increase in patients.
Gluten's effect on dental patients
Though patients are supposed to spit out toothpaste and fluoride that helps clean their teeth, many inadvertently swallow them. According to the Mayo Clinic, even small amounts of gluten can affect people who are sensitive to it. These individuals may develop symptoms like abdominal pain and diarrhea.
If celiac disease remains untreated, and patients continue to come in contact with gluten, the effects could be grim. By not digesting enough nutrients, patients may become anemic due to malnutrition, according to the Mayo Clinic. In this case, weight loss is common. There is also a risk of losing calcium and developing a decrease in bone density. In women, fertility complications may arise as well, sometimes even leading to miscarriages if they are pregnant.
Avoiding gluten in dental products
According to Delta Dental, nearly every toothpaste manufacturer gives gluten information on its website. It is recommended that if you are concerned about coming into contact with gluten at your dentist's office, to call your dentist's office a week before your appointment to confirm that the products he or she uses are safe. Celiac patients who are in need of oral care but have no dental insurance can find alternative ways to pay for their treatment, like discount dental plans.
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