How Acid Reflux Can Affect Your Teeth

Everyone has seen commercials on television for acid reflux, and you may realize that the condition can produce painful heartburn and damage to the lining of the esophagus. You may not realize, however, if you have acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), the condition can have significant consequences for your oral health.

How Does Acid Reflux Affect My Oral Health?

Acid reflux happens when the esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle tissue that separates the stomach from the esophagus, allows corrosive stomach acid to leak upwards into the esophagus. This acid can reach as far as your mouth, causing erosion of the enamel on the back molars.

While many people may be aware they are experiencing acid reflux through the symptoms of heartburn, not everyone experiences this, and your dentist may be the first health professional to detect the condition. This is one reason having your dentist perform a thorough oral health exam is critical to your health; more than 90 percent of systemic diseases have symptoms that can be detected in the mouth and gums.

Treating Dental Consequences Of Acid Refluxoral-health

The erosion of enamel is a significant oral health impact of acid reflux disease. The erosion can be permanent if left untreated, so addressing the demineralization of the enamel is essential.

Some of the ways dentists treat the dental consequences of acid reflux include:

  • Professionally administered remineralization treatments, including varnishes, rinses, or gel/foam treatments
  • Prescribed oral rinses, gels and high-fluoride toothpastes for home use
  • Recommend the use of toothpastes with high levels of sodium bicarbonate, which can effectively neutralize stomach acid
  • Provide restorations such as veneers or crowns in cases of advanced erosion

Additionally, your dentist may review effective ways for you to reduce acid reflux episodes, such as avoiding spicy foods, eating smaller meals, quitting smoking and reducing your consumption of alcohol.

“Acid reflux frequently is uncomfortable, and it can cause serious damage to your teeth,” says Dr. Melanie Bauer, a dentist in practice at Dr. Carol Ford & Associates in central Phoenix. “Appropriate medical and dental interventions for this disease can improve both your digestion and your oral health.”

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