Ulcerative Colitis Patients Might Have Poor Dental Health

In addition to battling gastrointestinal conditions, patients suffering from ulcerative colitis (UC) also often have to deal with poor oral health.

In addition to battling gastrointestinal conditions, patients suffering from ulcerative colitis (UC) also often have to deal with poor oral health.

In a case-control study, a researcher from India found that UC patients reported significantly more dental caries and oral ulcers than healthy controls.

Delfin Lovelina Francis, MDS, assistant professor of public health dentistry, Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University, Chennai, India, presented at the last Inflammatory Bowel Diseases meeting that she discovered some IBD patients had spent more money on dental treatment than IBD treatment itself.

“I saw that GIs here were aware of oral ulcers, but not thinking beyond that. I felt maybe that’s a universal thing,” Francis said.

The study involved 20 patients with UC and 20 healthy controls, who all received oral examinations to assess for oral mucosal lesions; decayed, missing, and filled tooth surface index; and periodontal status.

Results showed that patients with UC had higher odds of developing dental caries and oral manifestations — particularly aphthous ulcers – compared to the controls.

Francis attributed the prevalence in dental problems in UC patients to the doctors’ orders of eating five or six carbohydrate —heavy meals each day to avoid fatty foods that are difficult to absorb. According to Francis, carbs naturally produce more dental decay.

Also, Francis noticed 28 oral ulcers among the 20 UC patients. “Because of oral ulcers, patients were totally ignoring oral hygiene habits.”

The study was lauded for analyzing such an underexplored topic, serving as a springboard for further research like the impact of corticosteroids and other IBD medications on dental health.

Many experts are curious to study the interaction between the oral and gut microbiomes.