Gastroesophageal acid reflux disease or GERD can not only be painful, it can put your oral health at risk. GERD occurs when there is an overabundance of stomach acid and some of it travels back into your esophagus, irritating the lining of your stomach. Acid reflux is a fairly common experience that can happen after a particularly acidic meal, but GERD is acid reflux that occurs once a week or more. Acid that frequently travels up the esophagus can increase your risk of esophageal cancer, and can to erode your teeth and damage your gums.
How Acid Affects Your Teeth
Most patients associate cavities and gum disease with eating too much sugar and not brushing their teeth. While sugar is a problem, it’s only half the story.
Enamel is our teeth’s natural defense against wear and tear, and it’s actually the hardest substance in the body. Unfortunately, enamel has a major weakness: acid. When we eat too much sugar, the bacteria in our mouth feed on that sugar, creating an acidic byproduct that erodes our enamel, attacks our gums and eventually causes major oral issues.
Keep Your Reflux in Check
A study done at the University of California at San Francisco found that children with acid reflux are six times more likely to have weakened enamel than other children, and the same goes for adults, as well. If you suffer from GERD, there are several steps your can take to keep it in check.
Diet: Perhaps one of the most effective ways to control GERD is by avoiding particularly acidic foods such as, tomatoes, citrus, coffee, spicy food, coffee, or alcohol. It’s especially important not to consume these foods on an empty stomach.
Schedule: Try to avoid eating too close to bedtime. Eating close to bedtime stimulates the production of stomach acid. If you cut down on late night snacks, you may experience less GERD at night, when it’s most damaging.
Chew Gum: Chewing gum stimulates saliva production. Saliva can neutralize stomach acid naturally. It also helps protect your teeth from damage, and can reduce the urge to snack at night before bed.
See Your Doctor: Talking with your doctor about medication options such as proton-pump inhibitors can also help you keep your reflux in control. Also, over the counter options such as TUMS are a great solution to deal with pain.
Visit Your Dentist Regularly
If you have a history of reflux, it’s important that you see a dentist both early and often. The American Dental Association suggests you see a dentist at least every six months to maintain oral health. Because acid reflux predisposes you to more oral health complications, if you don’t remember when your last dental appointment was, you should schedule one immediately.
Over time, GERD, or frequent acid reflux, can make it easier for cavities to form in your mouth, and for stains to collect on your teeth. Managing your acid reflux and regular dental visits will ensure your mouth remains happy and beautiful.
Are you looking for a dentist to maintain or restore your oral health in Scripps Ranch or Mira Mesa? Please call (858) 271-1010 or contact us online today for an appointment with Dr. Goshtasbi at Oasis Dental Arts.