Oral Health and Inflammatory Bowel Disease: Strategies for Optimal Dental Care

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Oral Health and Inflammatory Bowel Disease:  Strategies for Optimal Dental Care


Good oral hygiene is crucial to overall health, particularly for people living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). IBD refers to a group of chronic inflammatory conditions that affect the gastrointestinal tract, including Crohn's disease, ulcerative & microscopic colitis.

According to research 0.8% of the Canadian population suffers from some form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease. People of all ages and genders can be affected by it, but it's most commonly diagnosed in those between the ages of 15 and 35.

The Oral-Systemic Link: Understanding the Connection

While IBD primarily affects the digestive system, it can also have significant implications for oral health. Various studies have found a strong connection between oral health and systemic health, including conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections.

Likewise, IBD patients are more likely to suffer from dental cavities and infections due to the systemic inflammation associated with the disease. The chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract can impact oral health through various mechanisms:

Nutritional Deficiencies

Individuals with IBD may experience malabsorption of essential nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals, which are crucial for maintaining oral health. Nutritional deficiencies can lead to weakened tooth enamel, gum disease, and delayed wound healing.

Medication Side Effects

Medications used to manage IBD, such as corticosteroids and immunosuppressants, can have oral health implications. For example, corticosteroids may increase the risk of developing oral infections, while immunosuppressants can affect the body's ability to fight oral bacteria.

Oral Manifestations of IBD

In some cases, oral health problems may be directly related to the underlying inflammatory process of IBD. Oral manifestations of IBD can include mouth ulcers, swollen gums, and dry mouth.

Strategies for Optimal Dental Care

While living with IBD presents unique challenges for oral health, adopting a proactive approach to dental care can help minimize complications and maintain oral well-being. Here are some strategies to consider:

Communicate with Your Healthcare Team- It is essential to inform your gastroenterologist and dentist about your IBD diagnosis and any medications you are taking. This allows for coordinated care and ensures that your dental treatment plans align with your overall health management.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Don't forget to floss daily to remove plaque and food debris stuck in-between your teeth. Consider using an antimicrobial mouthwash to reduce the risk of oral infections.

Regular Dental Check-up- Schedule regular dental check-ups to monitor your oral health closely. Dentists can detect early signs of tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral issues and provide appropriate treatment.

Opt for Gentle Dental Care- Inform your dentist about your IBD and any concerns you have regarding dental procedures. Dentists can modify treatment plans to minimize discomfort and reduce the risk of triggering IBD symptoms.

Nutritional Support- Consult with a registered dietitian or nutritionist to ensure you are getting adequate nutrition to support oral health. They can help identify foods that are both IBD-friendly and promote good oral health.

Manage Stress- Stress can exacerbate IBD symptoms and impact oral health. Incorporate stress management techniques like exercise, meditation, or therapy to promote overall well-being.

Quit Smoking - Smoking has detrimental effects on oral health and can worsen IBD symptoms. If you smoke, consider seeking professional help to quit.


Remember, each individual's experience with IBD and its impact on oral health may vary. It is essential to work closely with your healthcare team, including your gastroenterologist and dentist, to develop a personalized dental care plan that meets your specific needs.

By prioritizing oral health and implementing these strategies, individuals with IBD can proactively manage their dental care and promote optimal oral health. Taking care of your smile goes hand in hand with managing your IBD and improving your overall quality of life.


Can I use Aligners with IBD?

Yes, you can. Clear aligners and retainers have not been proven to be harmful to people with IBD. Consult your local dentist or gastroenterologist for more information.

What are oral symptoms of IBD?

There are several signs and symptoms of oral inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), including lesions, white tags, cracks, graininess, swelling, and redness.

What can I eat with IBD?

You can eat anything you like as long as it's nutritious. The only time you should avoid a food is if it triggers or worsens your symptoms.

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