Protect your teeth against the effects of acid reflux.

Acid reflux is an unpleasant condition that can negatively affect your life on a daily basis. Unfortunately, it can go from uncomfortable and inconvenient to a more serious cause for concern when it begins to affect your oral health. When the acids in your stomach make their way into your mouth frequently enough, they can begin to erode your tooth enamel. This can lead to bad breath, sensitive teeth, cavities, and potentially even tooth loss.

If you’ve been searching high and low for a solution to your acid reflux problem, you’re probably desperate for an answer now. Don’t panic, though. There are ways you can combat teeth erosion while you resolve the source of your reflux issues with your physician. We’ve detailed some of them here, along with useful information regarding this uncomfortable issue and its connection to your oral health.

What is acid reflux?

Acid reflux occurs when stomach acids travel into the esophagus, causing a variety of issues, including bad breath, nausea, chest pain, and more. If the issue becomes chronic (occurring two times a week or more), it may be the result of a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD.

What are the symptoms?

Acid reflux is commonly referred to as heartburn because the regurgitated acids can cause a burning sensation in the chest and throat. And while that burning feeling may be the most frequent and obvious symptom of the condition, there are a number of others to look out for, including:

  • Pain or difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Coughing
  • Regurgitation of food
  • Sore throat
  • Hoarse voice
  • Chest pain

Experiencing any one of these symptoms may not be a cause for concern. However, if you’re frequently experiencing a number of them, you should consult your physician to determine whether or not you’re suffering from GERD.

What causes acid reflux?

Here are some of the most common reasons you may be experiencing reflux.

  • Eating heavy or large meals
  • Lying down after eating
  • Eating before bed
  • Spicy, fatty, or acidic foods
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol, coffee, or carbonated drinks
  • Pregnancy
  • Hiatal hernia

If you have a hiatal hernia, the upper section of your stomach has pushed through your diaphragm and into your chest cavity. A hiatal hernia prevents the lower esophageal sphincter from keeping stomach acid inside the stomach. This is one of the main causes of GERD.

What dental problems can acid reflux cause?

On top of all of the discomfort acid reflux can cause, it can also begin to affect your oral health. This is because the stomach acids that are being regurgitated can wind up in your mouth and wear away at your teeth. When that occurs, it can result in the following symptoms:

  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Cavity development
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Tooth filling erosion
  • Tooth abscess
  • Tooth loss

The last two symptoms, tooth abscesses and tooth loss, only occur in more extreme cases. They often prove to be painful and unpleasant experiences that can result in the need for dental restorations.

Acid Reflux and Oral Thrush

Sometimes acid reflux may actually be the result of something known as oral thrush. Oral thrush is a condition in which a fungus begins to grow on the tongue and other soft tissues in the mouth and throat. It’s most easily identifiable by the white lesions it can cause.

Oral thrush has a number of similar symptoms to GERD, including acid reflux, painful swallowing, and nausea. If you’re experiencing these symptoms and you’d like to determine whether they’re being caused by oral thrush, visit a dentist office in East Norriton, PA, or speak with your physician.

What dental treatments can resolve these problems?

If you visit a dentist to combat oral health issues caused by acid reflux, they’ll likely tell you to try chewing an ADA-approved, sugar-free gum. This kind of gum can improve saliva production, which will work to wash away acids from your mouth. They may also offer fluoride treatments or prescribe a toothpaste that can help strengthen your tooth enamel and combat tooth erosion.

Remember, while preventing tooth erosion is critically important, none of these treatments are going to get at the root of the issue. If you want to do that, you’re going to want to speak with your physician.

What can I do at home to protect my oral health from it?

Fortunately, there are a number of different ways you can prevent acid reflux and protect your oral health. Eliminating acid reflux-inducing foods, such as citrus fruit, high-fat foods, tomatoes, and garlic, will certainly help. You can also try to exercise more often by taking a walk after a meal to aid proper digestion. It can also be helpful to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol and any other acidic drinks, such as soda and coffee.

Tackle your acid reflux symptoms with the help of your dentist.

Luckily, you don’t have to deal with the unfavorable symptoms of acid reflux alone. Your East Norriton, PA, dentist is here to help. If you have questions about how your acid reflux is potentially affecting your oral health, give the Cooley Bentz Dental team a call or make an appointment online.