Acid Reflux Isn’t Just a Stomach Issue… It can be a Dental Issue
Acid Reflux and Teeth
Have you ever eaten a large meal… maybe your Christmas Turkey with all the fixings… and have immediately suffered from acid reflux? You aren’t alone, and chances are that you did what most people do, either ignore it or pop an antacid.
Band-aid solutions may be fine for the short-term, but you need to address the underlying causes of acid reflux to minimize the damage it is doing, to not only your throat and esophagus, but your teeth as well. As it so happens, your stomach produces natural acids that enable your body to digest food. When that acid travels up the esophagus into the mouth, the acid attacks your enamel, weakening your teeth.
Fortunately, most people have a built-in army ready to combat the acid… in the form of saliva. Saliva naturally flushes any unwanted items away from your teeth and rebalances the acid in our mouth. Problem solved, right? Not quite. For those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux or GERD, gastric acids reach the mouth frequently throughout the day. Your body can’t keep up with the saliva production required to rebalance the acids. It becomes even more problematic during sleep as you are swallowing less often and producing less saliva.
Often you won’t even know there is damage to your teeth until you are notified by your hygienist or dentist, making regular dental visits all the more important. While tooth erosion is permanent, being aware of the damage that can be caused by acid reflux can help in proactively preventing acid build-up. However, if your teeth have been damaged, our Whitby dentist will talk with you about restorative options, such as fillings, crowns, bridges or maybe even root canal.
Your Best Defense Is Prevention
If you think you suffer from acid reflux, prevention is the best medicine. Knowing the causes of acid reflux, may just help you avoid it altogether. Here are the most common causes of acid reflux:
- Eating heavy meals and then lying down right afterwards
- Eating or snacking too close to bedtime
- Trigger foods such as citrus fruits, chocolate (I know… sorry), fried or fatty foods, garlic, onions or spicy foods. Mint is also a known trigger from acid reflux.
- Pregnancy, which many of my patients have experienced first-hand. Luckily, this usually subsides following the pregnancy.
- Certain over-the-counter medications, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and muscle relaxants.
Oral Health Tips – Acid Reflux and Teeth
There are steps you can take to offset the impact of acid reflux in your mouth. Dr. Jamshid Nematollahi recommends the following:
- Regular visits to the Downtown Whitby Dental office
- Brush twice a day using a toothpaste specifically formulated for dentin sensi¬tivity and an extra soft brush head. Toothpastes containing baking soda are low in abrasion and will aid in neutralizing acids.
- Do not brush after exposing your teeth to acid of any kind. Rather than helping, you are actually doing more damage as acid softens the tooth’s surface and brushing will cause more enamel loss. Wait at least 30 minutes until the natural flow of saliva washes away and neutralizes the acids.
- If you can’t get to a toothbrush within an hour of exposure to acid, rinse your mouth with water to remove acid from the surface of your teeth.
If you suffer from acid reflux, let us know at your next appointment. Our experienced dental team can share strategies for dealing with the acid that may remain in your mouth and will know to monitor for dental erosion beyond what’s considered normal.
About Downtown Whitby Dentistry
Our Downtown Whitby practice is growing and open to new patients. If you have questions, or just want to learn about our approach to family dentistry, we invite you to explore our site and learn more about us. You can find information about our team, office, technology, and the range of services that we offer. Or, give us a call. We love hearing from our patients and anyone who may be interested in becoming one. Let’s create reasons to smile… together.