Crohn’s Disease and Oral Health

Dear Dr Ellie,

I have been reading your blog, website and now your book with great interest and have been impressed by your approach.

I am in my mid 20s, from the UK and was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease about 4 years ago. As treatment for that condition I spent over a year on high dose corticosteroids and have ongoing immunosuppressants, which have now got me to a stable condition. I have been diagnosed with thin bones (osteopenia) due to the steroid treatment which is unusual for a male of my age.

Before my diagnosis I had a couple of small fillings, however since my diagnosis every time I visit my dentist I seem to have more work done and have had several instances of very bad toothache, fillings dropping out etc. I have 3 teeth now with root fillings, 1 with a crown and another with a inlay / onlay. Almost all my molars are filled and I have also had to have a molar extracted. I am lucky in that I have free NHS dental treatment so there is no financial cost but there is a cost in terms of the pain, discomfort and unsightliness.

After recently having to have the crown fitted, two fillings and a root canal I decided to look and see if I could find any way of slowing down this decay process as otherwise I felt I was heading toward false teeth at an early age. This is when I came across your website and then your book.

I am not medically or dentally trained but it would seem to me that people with Crohn’s disease have lots of risk factors for poor dental health:

  • Poor absorption of nutrients in the gut 
  • Increased incidence of acid reflux from the stomach 
  • Steroid treatments known to weaken bones, possible similar effect on teeth? 
  • Immunosuppressant treatment may make our mouths more susceptible to infection 

My dentist has not heard of any particular link between Crohn’s and poor oral health but by GP thinks it is certainly possible. I wondered what your thoughts would be on this?

I can report that I have been using your system (as best as I can given product availability in my area of the UK) for about 1 month now and already I am seeing good results. My gums seem to be the first area to have benefited, they are not bleeding when I brush and they have changed colour from red to pink. My teeth are also less sensitive. I will certainly continue to use the system and my hope is that at my next checkup with my dentist for the first time in a long time there will be no new fillings to do!

With regards to product availability I am using:

Retardex (which seems to be cheapest in the UK at Wilkinson’s Stores)

Crest Decay Prevention toothpaste. This is the only ‘regular’ crest toothpaste I could find and is actually a lot cheaper than the whitening/tartar control versions. I am not sure if it is just the UK branding of the Crest Cavity Prevention.

Listerine Original

Colgate Plax Alcohol Free (this is marketed as new and I am not sure if it has replaced the Colgate Fluorigard. Active ingredient is Sodium Fluoride 0.05% (225ppm) and the rest of the ingredients seem virtually identical to what I can see of the Fluorigard ingredient list.

I am also using Spry chewing gum after each meal and mid afternoon and evening (so 5 times at least a day). The gum seems to be only sweetened with Xylitol rather than Sorbitol.

I know you do not recommend substitutions but I have tried to keep as close to your system as possible given the product availability in my part of the UK (which may not be as good as in London or other large urban areas). I wondered if you thought these were reasonable substitutions in the circumstances?

Sorry for the long email, I know your time is precious.

Many Thanks


Hi D,

I think you “get” the entire situation and have made a very good evaluation of the link between your medical condition and your oral health.

You have also done a great job in finding suitable products.

I applaud you for all your diligence in figuring this out in another country.

I like the help that your message could offer to others with Crohn’s disease.

May I have your permission to post it on my blog – mainly to bring this to the attention of others who may have suffered similar damage?

Thanks so much for your letter – and I look forward to hearing more updates as you move along your journey into a better state of oral health.

Best Wishes,


Dr. Ellie Phillips DDS
Solutions for Oral Health

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