Hashimoto’s moms take note—gluten can cause childhood cavities

gluten-cavities-tooth-decay

While childhood is full of surprises, some parents are unprepared for the staggering dental bills and persistent cavities children get, even when they brush and floss regularly. Parents know to restrict sugar, but what they may not realize is that a hidden gluten intolerance and poor gut health, not a fluoride deficiency, may be the cause of those cavities.

This is especially true for moms or dads with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, an autoimmune thyroid disorder linked in a number of studies with gluten intolerance. Because gluten intolerance and celiac disease are genetic, parents with Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism should be mindful of symptoms in their children.

Fortunately, help can be just a meal away. Many have witnessed a near-miraculous halting of dental decay simply by putting their child on a gluten-free diet and restoring gut health.

Gluten intolerance causes wide range of dental defects

Defects in dental enamel are common in children who cannot tolerate gluten. In some children, dental problems may be the only symptom of a gluten intolerance or celiac disease (an autoimmune gluten intolerance). In addition to tooth decay, one may see enamel defects: white, yellow, or brown spots on the teeth; mottled or translucent teeth; pitting or banding of the teeth. Unfortunately, the majority of dentists peg these problems on excess fluoride or an early illness, missing an opportunity to alert parents to a possible gluten intolerance.

Going beyond gluten to repair the gut and stop cavities; similar to Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism protocol

Just as a gluten-free diet may resolve or alleviate symptoms of Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, for many children, transitioning to a gluten-free diet works wonders for halting decay and improving dental health. Also as with Hashimoto’s, others may need more intensive dietary restrictions and nutritional therapy. This is because gluten damages the lining of the small intestine, causing it to become inflamed and porous. As a result, the small intestine cannot properly absorb nutrients from food, causing malnutrition. This also allows undigested food to escape into the bloodstream, triggering an immune reaction and intolerances to foods other than gluten, most commonly dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and other grains.

The inflamed and damaged intestinal walls also disturb the balance of bacteria in the gut, allowing bacterial and fungal infections to take root. The overall result is a chronically inflamed, poorly functioning gut. Sometimes (but not always) other digestives issues, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or acid reflux, are also present.

Gluten and food intolerances cause inflammation, which may lead to cavities

Together these conditions can cause not only tooth decay and poor dental health but also other inflammation-based conditions, such as eczema, allergies, or behavioral issues. Taming the inflammation and allowing the gut to repair may require your child follow a diet that eliminates foods in addition to those containing gluten. Parents can run a lab test to screen for problematic foods or have their child follow an elimination diet for several weeks before reintroducing potential problem foods, one at a time, every 72 hours to see whether they trigger a reaction.

Anyone doing the work to manage their autoimmune Hashimoto’s may recognize the protocol. The objectives are the same: to repair the gut, tame inflammation, and restore balance to the immune system.

Although these diets can be a challenge to implement in our fast-food, sugar-addicted society, many parents find the pronounced improvement in dental health and other conditions makes it worthwhile. Bonus: as inflammation subsides on this diet, many parents say the palate of their normally picky eaters grows to include a wider variety of healthy foods, making meal times less of a struggle.

Ask me for tips and strategies to help improve your child’s dental health.

Dr. Joni Labbe

About Dr. Joni Labbe

Dr. Joni Labbe is a board-certified clinical nutritionist specializing in science-based nutrition with a focus on women's health issues. She has successfully helped pre-menopausal and menopausal women regain and maintain their health since 1995. Dr. Labbe is the author of the Amazon #1 Best Selling book Thyroid & Menopause Madness and It’s Not Just Menopause: It’s Your Thyroid. She is also a professional speaker, radio personality, fitness expert, and former host of “Healthier Way With Dr. Labbe.” Dr. Labbe is one of the country’s leading authorities on thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s disease. Dr. Labbe has also authored numerous articles and blogs on health, nutrition, and thyroid health, as seen in Naturally Savvy, Thyroid Nation, and Fox News. She is a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionalist, Doctor of Chiropractic, and has post graduate training in Functional Neurology, Functional Endocrinology, Functional Blood Chemistry Analysis, and earned a Diplomate and Fellow in Nutrition from the American Association of Integrative Medicine.

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