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How Can IBD Affect Your Gums and Teeth?

How Can IBD Affect Your Gums and Teeth?

I recently had one of my semi-annual dentist appointments and was dismayed to hear that my gums had severely receded since my previous visit. My dentist told me I was dealing with gingivitis and that my gums were extremely inflamed. This came as quite a shock because I do try to take good care of my teeth by brushing and flossing. Now I had recently given birth to my second child and was still breastfeeding at the time, both of which affect the body’s hormones which, in turn, can have an impact on gum health, so I can’t be sure how much of a role my recent pregnancy played.

Of course, when the dentist began talking about inflammation in the gums, I immediately wondered how much of that could be due to my Crohn’s disease diagnosis. Many of us have dealt with mouth ulcers as a result of inflammatory bowel disease, so it’s clear that the mouth is often impacted by these diseases.

What is gingivitis?

We have probably all heard about gingivitis before, but may not know that much about what it actually entails. The “-itis” tells me that inflammation is part of it, but I did not know much beyond that. Gingivitis is essentially inflammation of the part of your gum that is around the base of your teeth. It is most often caused by plaque build up on your teeth which then hardens into tartar and can irritate the gums, causing them to become inflamed. Gingivitis often causes your gums to be tender and to bleed easily when you brush or floss. The biggest issue with gingivitis is that is can spread further into the gums and ultimately the bones in your mouth causing periodontitis, which can lead to tooth loss.1

I found that recent studies have shown a correlation between Crohn’s disease and swelling of the gums.2

Is gingivitis connected to Crohn’s and UC?

So it is possible that the gingivitis I am dealing with could have something to do with my diagnosis. I realize that gingivitis can happen to anybody and if we are not properly taking care of our teeth there is a good possibility of it occurring, but the fact that the issues with my gums happened so quickly between appointments makes me suspect that something else is at play and making my symptoms worse. I also found that some medications used to treat IBD can also impact the gums.3

While I may never know the exact connection between my diagnosis and the inflammation in my gums, I now realized that I will have to take my oral hygiene even more seriously in order to do all that I can to prevent more issues in the future. Below are some tips for preventing gingivitis for any individual, but perhaps those of us with inflammatory bowel disease should consider taking it a step further to protect our teeth and gums.

Tips to improve oral hygiene:

  • Brush teeth at least twice daily for two minutes → Take it further: Brush after every meal or snack, especially if those snacks are sugary or sticky.
  • Floss at least once daily → Take it further: Floss twice daily and take your time to really scrub the sides of each of your teeth.
  • Visit dentist regularly to have teeth cleaned → Take it further: Schedule appointments every six months, or more often if your dentist recommends it, and speak to your dentist about possible inflammation of your gums and how your medications could be impacting your gums.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Mayo Clinic. (2017, August 4). Gingivitis. Retrieved from
  2. Ojha, J., Cohen, D. M., Islam, N. M., Stewart, C. M., Katz, J., & Bhattacharyya, I. (2007). Gingival involvement in Crohn disease. Journal of the American Dental Association, 138, 1574-1581.
  3. Pedrazas, C. H., Azevedo, M. N., & Torres, S. R. (2010). Oral events related to low-dose methotrexate in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Brazilian Oral Research, 24, 368-373.


  • thedancingcrohnie moderator
    1 year ago

    Depending on what medications I’m on, my teeth can become incredibly sensitive when brushing. Before my diagnosis, I never had sensitivity issues with my teeth. I noticed, for me at least, certain medications cause my teeth to become so sensitive that just drinking semi-cold water is extremely uncomfortable.

    Always dancing,
    Elizabeth (team member)

  • kaiabalthazor
    2 years ago

    My 9 yr old was just diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. When she was at the dentist the X-ray showed bone and gum loss unlike anything they had ever seen in such a young child. We are following up with a periodontist.

  • SusanHU
    2 years ago

    Good to hear that you are following up with a periodontist @kaiabalthazor – please keep us posted! – Susan ( Team Member)

  • lilsnowbunny
    2 years ago

    I have Crohn’s Disease. About 9 months ago I noticed it suddenly was very, very painful to brush my teeth. Having worked in the dental field for over 30 years, I know how to take care of my teeth and gums. I knew something wasn’t right. On a recent visit to my yearly dermatologist check up, I happened to show my doctor my gums. He immediately diagnosed me with Oral Lichen Planus. This is an autoimmune disease, like Crohn’s. I will need to take Prednisone to treat my gums. Something else to consider if you think something else is wrong besides routine gingivitis. I’m glad I mentioned it to my doctor!

  • 2 years ago

    My teeth are pretty good, tho my gums are not. In addition to Crohns I have CVID. I’m prone to infections. CVID can attack mucous membranes. We figure CVID is causing the issues with my gums. Gums bleed easily and the dental techs are very good & gentle when I get my cleanings.

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