Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that keeps your body from processing foods that contain gluten, but it can cause problems outside of your digestive system. Celiacs need to worry about oral health problems, too, and a serious one is oral cancer. Here's what you need to know about it.
Does celiac disease increase your risk?
Studies have shown that celiacs have a much higher risk of developing oral cancer than non-celiacs do, but only if they're not following a strict gluten-free diet. Celiacs who eat gluten are ten times more likely to develop oral cancer than the general population. Celiacs who are very careful to avoid gluten have the same risk of developing oral cancer as non-celiacs do.
What does oral cancer look like?
Oral cancer can develop anywhere inside your mouth. It can develop on your tongue, on the floor of your mouth, on the roof of your mouth, on your gums, or even on your uvula. It's hard to get a good look at some of these areas in your mirror, but your dentist will perform a thorough oral cancer screening during your yearly checkups.
Oral cancer can appear as a bump inside your mouth, a red or white patch, or a crusty or rough spot. The area can be painful, but not always. If you find an unexplained bump or patch inside your mouth, and it doesn't heal by itself within 2 weeks, you need to see your dentist immediately because it could be oral cancer.
Can oral cancer be treated?
Oral cancer is treated with standard cancer treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery, and it can be successfully treated when the condition is diagnosed early. If the cancer is found early, the survival rate is between 80% and 90%. If it's found later, the survival rate is much worse. This is why it's important not to skip your yearly checkups with your dentist.
How can you reduce your risk of oral cancer?
Following a strict gluten-free diet is important since celiacs who do this aren't more likely to develop oral cancer than non-celiacs. Read labels carefully to make sure that you're not consuming gluten. Gluten can hide in unexpected foods, like deli meats, soups, and potato chips, so you need to be very vigilant.
If you have Celiac disease, you need to be very careful to avoid gluten, not just for your digestive health, but to reduce your risk of developing oral cancer. For more information, contact a company like Gentle Dental Family Care.