Crohn's Disease & Oral Problems—What You Can Do About It

17 July 2015
 Categories: Dentist, Articles


If you have Crohn's disease, then you likely play close attention to your digestive system and how flare-ups cause cramps, gas, diarrhea, and general discomfort. Your immune system disorder can affect far more than just your digestive system though. In fact, poor oral health is a common issue for individuals with Crohn's disease. Keep reading to find out what types of oral concerns you may face and how you should deal with them.

Mouth Ulcers

In general, Crohn's disease is a condition where the immune system attacks the tissues of the digestive tract. This causes extensive inflammation across the tissues. Many people have problems with swelling along the lower part of the large intestine, the end of the bowel, and the colon. However, inflammation can occur for some across the entirety of the digestive tract, which starts in the mouth and ends at the colon. This means that swelling can occur in the mouth, and this is usually seen in the way of ulcers or canker sores.

Canker sores and ulcers are most likely to appear in the mouth during a Crohn's flare-up. The good news is that the canker sores will go away once the flare-up subsides. You may want to treat the sores though to reduce pain and discomfort.

Treating Sores

You can easily reduce pain by purchasing an over-the-counter ointment at your local pharmacy that is marketed for use around painful teeth. Most of these products contain an analgesic called benzocaine to numb the mouth. Spread a small amount of the analgesic on each of your canker sores two or more times a day as you feel discomfort. 

You also should stay away from any foods that will burn or irritate the sores in your mouth. Spicy foods that contain capsacian, red pepper flakes, or hot peppers should be avoided, and so should acidic items like citrus fruits, fruit juices, sodas, coffee, and any food that contains vinegar. If you do end up eating foods that cause discomfort, try rinsing with a warm salt water solution afterwards. The water will rinse the offending food particles away while the salt reduces swelling and kills some of the harmful bacteria.


When a Crohn's disease flare-up occurs, inflammation stops the intestinal tissues from working properly and absorbing the fluids and nutrients from the foods you eat. Loose stool and severe diarrhea are the results. Unfortunately, this leaves your body nutrient deficient. When it comes to the calcium you consume, your body will utilize small amounts of the absorbed nutrient to keep blood calcium levels high.

The amount of calcium carried through the blood is kept at a consistent level. Calcium is not only used to repair the teeth and bones, but it also helps muscles and nerves work the right way. The heart needs calcium too, and the blood uses the nutrient to help with clotting. If calcium is needed for important body functions, it will not be used to strengthen the teeth.

Reducing Decay Issues 

Unfortunately, a reduction in calcium can lead to enamel weaknesses and cavities. To keep decay at bay, make sure to eat calcium-rich foods several times a day so there is a better chance that your body will absorb enough of the nutrient. You need to stay away from dairy items though, because they can cause gas as well as cramps during a Crohn's flare-up.

Oranges, figs, soy beans, almonds, and fortified almond milk are all good dairy-free and easy to digest foods with calcium. Kale and collard greens also contain a good deal of the nutrient and these foods can serve as roughage in your diet too, to help bulk up and harden loose stool.

If the Crohn's flare-up has caused you to lose your appetite, then consider a calcium supplement. An inexpensive calcium carbonate supplement is enough to increase your calcium intake, but make sure that the product contains vitamin D as well. This vitamin is needed for the body to absorb calcium, so it is wise to take both the nutrients at the same time.

Learn more about treatment and pain relief options by visiting clinics like The Center For Progressive Dentistry.