Article at a Glance
- Gluten refers to the proteins in some grains that holds food together.
- Since gluten cannot be broken down by the body, it is absorbed. Some people, like those with celiac disease, cannot eat foods with gluten because it triggers an autoimmune reaction that damages the small intestine.
- There are health benefits to a gluten-free diet if you have been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance.
- If you have not been diagnosed as gluten intolerant, a gluten-free diet may not benefit you if you swap gluten products for highly processed, high calorie gluten-free options.
- People with gluten intolerance are more likely to have oral health issues including erosion of the enamel, excessive cavities, inflamed or irritated gums, and discolored teeth.
Going gluten-free is often equated with a healthier lifestyle. In some cases, going gluten-free is not an option, it’s necessary. So, what’s the big deal about gluten?
What is Gluten?
Simply put, gluten refers to the proteins in some grains that holds food together. Wheat, barley, and rye are the three foods most often associated with gluten. They are common ingredients in cereals, pasta, breads, dressings, food coloring, and even beer.
Gluten acts as a bonding agent to help food keep its shape, so it can be found in other, unexpected places. It is also the only protein in food that is indigestible meaning it cannot be broken down by the body and is absorbed by the intestines instead.
In some people, gluten irritates the intestinal lining and triggers the immune system, which results in damage to the small intestine. This prevents the body from absorbing enough nutrients from food which can lead to malnutrition. Known as celiac disease, this condition is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. Approximately 1 of every 100 people in the world has celiac disease. Untreated, individuals with celiac disease can develop serious health issues like Type I diabetes, neurological disorders, and intestinal cancers. The treatment is a gluten-free diet.
What is the Benefit of a Gluten-Free Diet?
People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have found some relief from switching to a gluten-free diet. Parents of some children with autism have reported some improvement in behavior, social skills, and learning after switching to a gluten-free diet. Overall, there is mixed information about the actual health benefits of gluten-free diets if you have not been diagnosed as gluten intolerant.
It is important to read labels and consider the information about the food you’re about to eat. Some gluten-free foods can be just as high calorie, high refined carbs and sugars as their gluten counterparts.
I Have A Gluten Intolerance, Can I Ever Eat Out Again?
The good news is that there are more gluten-free options at restaurants than ever before. Many restaurants have gluten-free menus and some even have a separate area to prepare the food without risk of cross-contamination. If you’re searching for gluten-free beer, Breaking Brew Meadery in Farmer’s Branch is offering a gluten-free mead.
How Does Gluten Affect My Teeth?
If you have a gluten intolerance, it’s important to consider the effect of gluten on your teeth. People with celiac disease can actually have erosion of tooth enamel because their bodies cannot absorb the vitamins and minerals necessary to protect their teeth. Further, gluten can prevent the body from producing the Vitamin K needed for healthy bones. Other oral health issues that can occur include excessive cavities, inflamed or irritated gums, and discolored teeth.
How Your Dentist Can Help
For those individuals diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, it’s crucial that you create a good oral health care routine that includes brushing and flossing at least twice per day on top of following a gluten-free diet. Be sure to visit your dentist every six months for regular check-ups and professional cleanings.
Whether you’re gluten-free or not, if you’re looking for a dentist in Farmer’s Branch, Jefferson Dental Care’s professional and friendly staff is ready to help you. Schedule your next appointment for a check-up and teeth cleaning today!