Those with acid reflux know the drill. If you drink even one beer and try to enjoy a piece of pizza, you’ll pay for it a few hours later. But unlike what you may think, gastroesophageal acid reflux disease or GERD can be much more complicated than heartburn or an upset stomach. Left unchecked, it can put your oral health at risk.
GERD is a long-term condition where acid from the stomach pushes up into the esophagus. While many people occasionally experience acid reflux, if this occurs more than twice a week, it can be considered GERD. Not only can an influx of stomach acid increase your risk of esophageal cancer, it can erode your teeth and damage your gums.
Acidity and Enamel
While most associate cavities and gum disease with poor dental-hygiene habits, this isn’t the whole picture. Eating an overabundance of sugar or starch isn’t what erodes enamel and damages teeth, but the acidic by-product produced by certain mouth bacteria which feed on sugar.
Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and what has kept our teeth safe from wear and damage. Even though it is incredibly effective, constant exposure to acids are its major weakness. This is what makes GERD so dangerous to your overall oral health. Acid which travels up into the esophagus can make its way into the mouth, putting your teeth in danger, and also damaging your gums.
Minimize Your GERD to Improve Oral Health
Confirming that GERD can damage your mouth in more ways than one, a recent study conducted at the University of California at San Francisco found that children with symptoms of chronic acid reflux are 6 times more likely to have dental erosion than those without. The findings conclude that GERD can weaken enamel and expose our dentin, the layer of tooth below enamel which is even more susceptible to erosion.
If you suffer from GERD, there are three things you can do to improve it and protect your teeth:
Diet: One of the most effective means for minimizing GERD is taking control of your diet and avoiding acidic foods such as: tomatoes, coffee, spicy food, or alcohol. Consuming these foods on an empty stomach could exacerbate symptoms.
Eating Schedule: Without changing what you eat, you can improve your symptoms by simply changing when you eat. Eating food close to bedtime can increase acid production while you sleep, damaging your teeth without you even knowing.
Visit Your Doctor: Talking your to your doctor could be an important step in controlling symptoms. Your doctor will be able to provide advice and medication like a proton-pump inhibitor, which can reduce acid production.
Don’t Forget to Visit the Dentist
If you suffer from GERD, you a much more likely to experience oral complications, which makes visiting the dentist that much more important. The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup. That way, your dentist can monitor your mouth and provide treatment if necessary.
We can also help restore teeth that have been damaged by GERD. Dental crowns fit over the entire surface of the tooth, protecting it from acid. And dental restorations are made from materials that are more resistant to acid than our natural tooth enamel. Badly damaged teeth may need root canal treatment, too. This stops serious infections. It can also stop the serious toothaches that can come with badly eroded teeth.
If you are overdue for a general dentistry check-up or have a dental need, please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia South Carolina today for an appointment.