If you have symptoms such as heartburn, a chronic cough, or burning sensation in your chest and up to your throat, it’s quite possible you have acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
image from Colgate
The symptoms of GERD are uncomfortable and pose possible health concerns on digestion and other parts of the anatomy, and often there is not much discussion about the side effects of acid reflux and your teeth. Simple put, acid can severely damage your teeth as acid can eat away tooth structure. Our teeth have a natural pH level of 5.5, which is relatively neutral in the pH scale. The acid in our stomach ranges around 2.0, which is much more acidic. When the acid comes in contact with our teeth, it can start to eat away at your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the hard, shiny, white outer surface of the teeth. Damage caused to tooth enamel is irreversible, and without the protection of enamel, teeth become overly sensitive, prone to cavities, and more likely to decay.
If you do have GERD and have noticed that your teeth have become sensitive, are thinning or shortening, have darkened, have sharp edges or if you have pain or irritation in your mouth these are all signs or symptoms that may indicate teeth erosion due to the disease.
The best measures that can be taken are knowing what triggers the disease to try to prevent acid reflux from occurring. Triggers can be anything from medication, eating certain foods or stress.
Treatment for heartburn may include medications, home remedies, or diet changes.
Other measures that can be taken to help prevent acidic damage to your teeth are:
- Reducing the amount of acidic foods consumed. These can include carbonated drinks such as pop, citrus fruits and juices.
- Avoid brushing for at least 30 minutes after eating or drinking acidic foods or drinks. Acid leaves the enamel softened and by brushing you’ll be further spreading the acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.
- Drink more water during the day. This will help with help prevent dry mouth or low saliva problems which can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease.
- Visit your Dentist every 6 months for a check up and cleaning.
- Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride mouth rinse to strengthen your teeth.
- Chew sugar-free gum with xylitol. Research has proven that regular use of xylitol helps re-mineralize damaged tooth enamel and inhibits demineralization of healthy tooth enamel.
- Rinse your mouth with water right after having acidic foods or drinks.
If you are concerned or have questions about Acid reflux and the effects on your teeth, feel free to talk to your Burnaby Dentist at North Burnaby Dental Group.