Acid reflux disease, or GERD, occurs when acid from the stomach moves into the esophagus, causing burning or discomfort in the chest. While GERD is a digestive disease, dental professionals are often the first to notice a potential acid reflux problem in a patient.
As stomach acids travel into the esophagus, they sometimes “splash” into the mouth. Over time, this acid will begin to dissolve the outer layer of the tooth’s enamel, and even the underlying layer (dentin). Your dentist may notice tooth decay in the form of thin, sharp, or pitted teeth as a result of GERD.
Protecting Your Teeth
While it’s wise to consult a gastroenterologist to help combat the effects of GERD, there are several ways that you can protect your teeth:
- After an acid reflux episode, do not brush your teeth right away. It’s best to way an hour.
- Chew sugar-free gum (containing xylitol). Producing saliva in the mouth will help wash away acids.
- Regularly rinse with water, and rinse vigorously.
- Add baking soda to water when you rinse. This will aid in neutralizing the acid.
- Use sugar-free antacids
As a preventative measure, patients should be aware of what they consume. For instance, spicy, fatty, and fried foods, as well as citrus drinks and dairy products can all contribute to acid reflux. It’s also important to know how pH levels in substances affect your teeth. Tooth enamel begins to break down at a pH of 5.5. Generally, natural stomach acids are low, at 2.0. A lower pH means that a solution or substance has more acid.
While the loss of tooth enamel is permanent, it’s important to know that effects of acid reflux disease are treatable. The key is regular examinations by your dentist.
Reversing Tooth Decay
At Grateful Dental, Dr. Leia Porcaro values comprehensive and preventative dental care for your entire family. Dr. Porcaro and her team understand the manifestations of GERD, and how it increases your risk for tooth decay. The skilled team at Grateful Dental is fully equipped to help you reverse tooth decay and protect your teeth. Optimal oral health is important to us. We welcome your call today!