Abstract: Aim The coeliac disease deprives affected individual of the main nutritive factors, which are essential to promote body development: coeliac children are often subject to weight loss and have a lower somatic growth rate compared to healthy children. In addition, it is proven that prolonged malnutrition can have irreversible effects on dental eruption: teeth development also suffers a delay or it is slowed down in coeliac children. The purpose of this study was to evaluate and quantify the persistence of a delay in the dental age in children with coeliac disease and the presence of a possible constant relationship between the estimated delay in skeletal development and that referred to the dental age.
Materials and methods Seventy children (24 males and 46 females) were selected, all affected by coeliac disease, aged between 5.3 and 13.8 years, with a mean age of 9 years ± 22 months SD. Through teleradiography of the skull in latero-lateral projection and orthopantomography of the dental arches, the estimate of the skeletal development and dental age was carried out for each patient, applying two specific methods extensively described in the literature.
Results and conclusion The results obtained, in agreement with the literature, show how the dental age, which is delayed in children affected by coeliac disease, may be considered as a reliable indicator of somatic growth and also of biological age. Furthermore, a gluten-free diet has considerable beneficial effects on skeletal development in relation to the dental age, in agreement with the hypothesis that dental development is controlled by different regulatory mechanisms, totally independent from those that influence skeletal development and the somatic and sexual development of the individual, even if the delay of dental development decreases progressively from the time of diagnosis of coeliac disease to introduction of a gluten-free diet.