What is acid reflux disease and how can it impact your oral health?
Acid reflux disease, also known as GERD, is a very common gastrointestinal disorder. About 1 in 5 people experience periodic acid reflux, and some people have chronic acid reflux symptoms. But what about acid reflux and oral health? Not sure what the effects of acid reflux can be on your mouth? Acid reflux, dental care, and oral health are more closely linked than you may think.
What causes acid reflux disease?
Acid reflux disease is caused when the esophageal sphincter, a ring of muscle that is responsible for separating the stomach from the esophagus, does not function properly.
This can allow acid and stomach contents to move from the stomach into the esophagus, where it will cause pain, discomfort, and irritation. GERD also can raise the risk of oral and esophageal cancer.
What are the common acid reflux disease symptoms?
Common acid reflux symptoms include heartburn, chest pain, difficulty swallowing, regurgitation of food/sour liquid with a bitter taste, or even chronic cough.
Acid reflux and oral health – what you need to know
Acid reflux causes stomach acid to enter your esophagus, and serious cases of GERD can cause stomach acid to reach your mouth. If this happens, the powerful stomach acid that’s regurgitated to the rear of your mouth can cause permanent damage to your tooth enamel.
Patients sometimes find out they have acid reflux disease after a dentist notices premature enamel erosion on the backside of the teeth during routine appointments. This enamel loss is permanent, so it’s important to know if you have acid reflux and get the help you need to keep it under control and avoid damage to your teeth.
To protect your teeth, get regular checkups to see if you have GERD, use a toothpaste with fluoride to protect your enamel, and consider a nightguard to protect your teeth from stomach acid while you sleep. Ask your dentist about further options.
What acid reflux treatment options are available?
There are a few different ways patients can treat their acid reflux to minimize its effects on their esophagus and teeth, such as:
- Maintaining portion control and eating smaller meals
- Not laying down after eating
- Avoiding alcohol and quitting smoking/tobacco use
- Eliminating common “trigger foods” that are high in acid, fat, or are spicy
- Losing weight
Medicines like Proton Pump Inhibitors (PPIs) may also be prescribed for long-term relief, while over-the-counter antacids like Tums and Gaviscon may be used for short-term relief.
Need help with oral care and acid reflux disease? Come to our dental office!
At Regent Avenue Dental Centre, our dentists can examine your mouth, assess your GERD and its impact on your oral health, and provide you with the tips and advice you need to keep your teeth healthy. Contact us now for an appointment, and to get the help you need.