Do you suffer from heartburn?
Did you know it can affect your mouth?
Did you know dental hygienists may be able to offer some suggestions to help protect your teeth??
Frequent stomach upset can cause enamel wear causing tooth erosion. This breakdown can make it easier for bacteria to cause cavities.
How Do Stomach Problems Affect My Teeth?
Your stomach produces acids aiding in food digestion. Sometimes, these acids travel up the throat and into the mouth, especially after a large meal. Ordinarily, our saliva rebalances the pH in our mouth protecting our teeth and oral cavity.
But for those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux or GERD, gastric acids enter the oral cavity throughout the day and night. This process is especially damaging when you are sleeping as you swallow less often and your mouth is drier.
Another concern is dry mouth caused by some medications. Saliva helps neutralize acid and helps to wash away food particles and reduce bacteria that attack tooth enamel. So dry mouth increases your risk for cavities.
What Does Reflux-Related Erosion Do to My Teeth?
Acid reflux wears away the enamel on our teeth. This is something your oral health provider may notice during an exam.
Unfortunately, tooth erosion is permanent. If your enamel has started to wear away, you may:
Feel pain or sensitivity when consuming hot, cold or sweet drinks
Notice a yellowish discoloration of the teeth
Find that your fillings feel different and are breaking down
Higher risks for cavities
How to Protect Your Teeth – And Get Relief
Sugar-free gum can be a huge benefit by encouraging saliva production, which helps neutralize and wash away the acids in your mouth. Look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
Prescription or over-the-counter fluoride and desensitizing toothpastes may help protect enamel.
Limiting eating 3 hours before bedtime may reduce the frequency of acid reflux episodes.
If heartburn, acid reflux or other stomach problems are part of your daily life, work with your medical provider on a care plan to treat the underlying causes of your stomach troubles.
If you suffer from acid reflux, see your dental provider regularly so they can make sure your teeth stay healthy, recommend ways to prevent tooth enamel erosion and suggest ways to get relief if you are also suffering from dry mouth.