Dental Problems Plague Crohn’s Patients

More Crohns patients who had resections had decayed and missing teeth and surface fillings

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) Some studies have shown Crohn’s disease patients to have more cavities and other dental problems. Are these problems related to the disease, dental hygiene or other risk factors?

A recent scientific study looked at the dental problems in Crohn’s patients and investigated what might put these patients at greater risk for these problems.

The research team found that Crohn’s disease patients who had bowel surgery had more tooth decay, missing teeth and surface fillings than people without Crohn’s. These dental problems were associated with the presence of bad bacteria in the patient’s mouths and more frequent consumption of sugary drinks.

"See your dentist for regular dental care."

This research was carried out by a team led by Annsofi Johannsen and Sara Szymanska from the Department of Dental Medicine at the Karolinska Institutet in Huddinge, Sweden.

This study included 150 patients aged 18 to 77 with Crohn’s disease. A total of 71 of the patients had had resection surgery — surgery to cut out diseased sections of the intestine and in which the remaining sections of the intestines were rejoined.

This study also included 75 people aged 18 to 74 without Crohn’s disease (controls).

The study participants answered questions about their oral hygiene, dental health and about their medical history. They were also surveyed about their eating habits and consumption of sugary drinks.

All patients and controls had a dental examination and dental X-rays. Bacteria in their saliva was measured, as well. Two kinds of bacteria, called Lactobacilli and Streptococcus mutans can accumulate on teeth and cause a film called plaque that can lead to the formation of cavities.

Among Crohn’s disease patients, men had more decayed teeth, with an average of 2.5, than women, who had an average of 1.5 decayed teeth.

Dental plaque was also more common in men than women. About 56 percent of men had plaque, compared with 42 percent of women.

Crohn’s disease patients reported drinking more sugary drinks than the control group. A total of 26 percent of the controls reported drinking sweetened drinks, compared with 43 percent of the patients without resection surgery and 61 percent of patients who had resection surgery.

All patients with Crohn’s disease had higher levels of Lactobacilli in their saliva and more dental plaque than people in the control group. Crohn’s patients in the resected group had higher amounts of Streptococcus mutans in their saliva than the control group.

Scores assigned by the researchers for decay, missing teeth and filled tooth surfaces were significantly higher in Crohn’s patients who had resection surgery than in the control group.

“The present study shows that patients with Crohn’s Disease who had undergone resective surgery had a higher [decay missing filled] score, and higher salivary counts of Lactobacilli and Streptococcus mutans compared to the control group,” the authors wrote.

They advised, “In the clinical practice these patients must be informed about the consequences of altered dietary habits and the importance of the prevention. Further research should focus on developing individual preventive programmes tailored to their needs.”

This research was published in the March issue of PLOS ONE.

Funding for the research was provided by the Swedish Association of People with Stomach and Bowel Diseases, Swedish Patent Revenue Research Fund, Swedish Society of Gastroenterology and Sophiahemmet Research Funds.

The authors disclosed no conflicts of interest.

Review Date: 
March 25, 2014
Last Updated:
March 25, 2014