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Science in the News

Amount of Oral Health Care for Those with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

August 19, 2015

A recent article by Johannsen, et al1 quantified the engagement in dental care for people with either Crohn’s disease (CD) or ulcerative colitis (UC) compared with age, sex and geography matched controls in Sweden.  An important first observation to be made is that the ability to ask and answer the question was facilitated by there being a national dental treatment registry in Sweden.  The second is that inflammatory bowel disease is associated with increased use of dental treatment.

Within the Uppsala-Örebro and Stockholm regions of Sweden, adults diagnosed with CD or UC between 1960 and 1989 were coded as having endodontic treatment and filled teeth at least 25 percent more frequently than controls.  In addition, individuals with CD but not UC had dental surgery and dental prostheses at least 25 percent more frequently than controls.

There is general recognition that the mouth is the first part of the digestive system.  However, it may less well appreciated that all three of the chronic intestinal inflammatory disease, namely CD and UC as reported by Johannsen1 and celiac disease2 affect oral health.  This highlights the value of that patient health history form to document condition(s) being treated and/or serious illness as well as specifically inquiring about autoimmune or gastrointestinal conditions.  The information obtained has practical application to better prepare the dentist to address and perhaps even anticipate patient needs.


1. Johannsen A, Fored MC, Håkansson J, Ekbom A, Gustafsson A.  Consumption of dental treatment in patients with inflammatory bowel disease, a register study. PLoS One 2015;10(8):e0134001.
2. American Dental Association. Celiac disease. http://www.ada.org/en/member-center/oral-health-topics/celiac-disease Accessed August 18, 2015.

About Science in the News

Science in the News is a service by the American Dental Association (ADA) to its members to present current information about science topics in the news. The ADA is a professional association of dentists committed to the public's oral health, ethics, science and professional advancement; leading a unified profession through initiatives in advocacy, education, research and the development of standards. As a science-based organization, the ADA's evaluation of the scientific evidence may change as more information becomes available. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated.