Xanthan Gum at your Dental Visit

Xanthan Gum which can sometimes contain gluten is not found in our dental products

Xanthan Gum is in many gluten free products. But can it be found in the dental office?

Since being the first dental office in Orange, CT to offer a gluten free dental visit, we have seen dozens of patients with either Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance. They are able to relax and be assured that no dental products containing gluten will be used on them or their children.

In talking with one of our patients recently, one who experienced a severe allergic reaction to gluten in prophy paste during a routine cleaning, she described a new phenomenon of which I was not aware: allergic reactions to xanthan gum.

Xanthan Gum and Celiac Disease

I jumped at the chance to research this issue as I was legitimately concerned that I could be inadvertently placing my Celiac Disease dental patients at risk. This is what I uncovered:

Gluten free bread uses xanthan gum but can cause allergic reactions - can it be found at the dentist.

Xanthan Gum is often times used as a substitute for wheat in gluten free breads.

  • Xanthan gum is used frequently as a substitute for gluten in many gluten-free products.
  • Xanthan gum is created using a variety of products which can include soy and wheat.
  • The xanthan gum is processed in order to remove the various starter products (such as soy and wheat).
  • But it is still possible that soy and/or wheat remnants can be present after processing.

This explains why many people with either Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, or Soy Allergies end up developing allergic and/or adverse reactions to products made with xanthan gum. In addition, some claim that you can develop allergies to xanthan gum, even if there are no wheat products remaining.

I am a dentist and not a food chemist, so my sources (besides my trusty Celiac patient who told me about this) are here:

  • Article on celiac.com about xanthan gum sensitivity.
  • Article on allallergy.net.

Xanthan Gum and the Dentist

I have gone to great lengths to be able to offer my patients a gluten free experience in my dental practice in Orange, CT. I have gone so far as to share MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) and detailed product descriptions with patients. So naturally the first thing I did was to check to see if xantham gum was listed in any of our gluten-free dental products. It was not.

Topical Fluoride varnish gluten free for celiac disease patients in Orange, CT

Our gluten free topical fluoride contains no xanthan gum nor nut remnants.

Gluten is most commonly found in three products used at the dentist: topical fluoride, prophy paste (the gritty toothpaste your hygienist polishes your teeth with), and topical anesthetic.

As I do for all patients with allergies, I needed to be 110% certain. So I called the company that I use for gluten free dental products: DMG America.  One of their product managers got back to me within 2 hours. None of their products contain xanthan gum. They also confirmed that none of their products contain nuts.

A Dental Visit Without Gluten, Nuts, AND now Xanthan gum

Prior to my conversation with my patient about xanthan gum, I was only promoting gluten-free and nut-free dentistry. Now, knowing that sensitivities to xanthan gum exist, I am also adding xanthan gum free dentistry to the list. I am this sure this list will grow in the future. For any questions, please call or visit this page to learn about gluten free dentistry in Orange, CT.

 

New Study Demonstrates Relationship Between Teeth Defects and Celiac Disease

Celiac Disease and effects on teeth for the dentist to identify

Symptoms of Celiac Disease. Image courtesy celiac.org

A new study has been published which has highlighted an increasingly common finding in the dental office: a correlation between certain teeth defects and celiac disease. The study showed 85% of adults with celiac disease had specific tooth enamel defects attributable to gluten consumption while the adult teeth were forming.

Unfortunately, very few dentists are aware of this correlation and the steps necessary to help dental patients with celiac disease. Drs. Nicholas and Carla Calcaterra in our Orange, CT dental office are committed to informing and educating patients about this link.

What is Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an inherited condition which affects an individual’s ability to digest gluten. Gluten is the common name given to proteins found in all types of wheat. When a person with this condition consumes gluten, the immune system creates a toxic reaction that damages the small intestine. In the United States, nearly 1 in 100 whites have celiac disease.

Celiac Disease gastrointestinal symptoms and stomach pain

Stomach Pain is a common finding. Image courtesy Celiac.org

There are many non-dental symptoms of celiac disease. These include:

  • Bloating of the Stomach
  • Chronic Constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Anemia
  • Fatigue or lack of energy
  • Osteopenia and then Osteoporosis
  • And many others…

Dental Findings in Patients with Celiac Disease

Patients with Celiac Disease will frequently have several common findings identifiable by a dentist:

  • Problems or defects in dental enamel (enamel is the outermost layer of the tooth).
  • Apthous ulcers (also called canker sores or mouth sores).
  • Delayed tooth eruption.

Defects in dental enamel are the most troubling for patients, as they weaken the teeth and make them more susceptible to dental decay (also referred to as cavities). In order for the defects to occur, you must have consumed gluten while the permanent teeth were developing, which is from birth to age 7 to 8.

Photo and Picture of Tooth with enamel defect due to celiac disease

Upper canine tooth on an adult patient from Milford, CT with celiac disease. Photo Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra.

The exact mechanism of how the defects occur is unknown, but researchers in this paper believe it is an immune-mediated reaction.

The photograph here shows enamel defects in an upper canine in a patient from Milford, CT. She was seen by Dr. Nicholas Calcaterra in our office in Orange, CT. A thorough medical and dental history as well as a detailed clinical exam allowed for Dr. Calcaterra to determine the origin of the defects. To address this tooth and other ones with similar features, Dr. Calcaterra placed several all porcelain crowns.

Considerations for Dental Patients with Celiac Disease

Several pages could be written on this subject. But key points include:

  • If you have celiac disease, ask your dentist if she/he sees any clinical or radiographic enamel defects.
  • Be aware that if you have defects, you are at higher risk for dental decay. Ask your dentist for a high fluoride prescription toothpaste such as Prevident.
  • If you suffer from chronic apthous ulcers, ask your dentist for a prescription that can relieve the pain and potentially shorten the duration. Kenalog in Orabase is a common one.
  • If you have celiac disease, ask your dentist or hygienist to use gluten-free paste at your 6 month cleaning appointment.  We have this available for all patients upon request.
  • If you have not been diagnosed with Celiac disease, but have dental findings similar to what is described AND you have gastrointestinal symptoms, consult your physician.

If you live in Orange, Woodbridge, Milford, or other area towns and would like a consult or new patient appointment with Dr. Nicholas or Carla Calcaterra, call us at (203) 799 – 2929 or visit our appointment page. Or if you would like to learn more about how we offer gluten free dentistry, visit this page.