How Acid Reflux Affects Your Teeth
As you may already know, your oral health and your overall health are forever intertwined. For example, if you have diabetes, then steadily high glucose levels in your blood have been attributed to the decay of your teeth and gums. Additionally, the same bacteria that causes gum disease can get into your bloodstream and cause heart problems, including blood clots.
While both of these problems should be addressed with your dentist and physician immediately, there is a common problem affecting thousands of Americans every day that could be taking its toll on your teeth as well. If you suffer from acid reflux, explains Suman Kumar D.D.S., a dentist in Santa Clara, California’s ACCU Dental facility, then you need to be proactive about your oral hygiene regimens.
What is acid reflux? Acid reflux is caused when the acids in your stomach that are used to break down food flow back up through your esophagus and sometimes even into your mouth. Doctors believe that pregnancy, asthma and eating portions that are too large may attribute to an increased rate of acid reflux, though exact causes are not always clear. For some, acid reflux, which produces a burning feeling in your throat and around your heart, happens just once in awhile. For others, however, it is a regular occurrence.
How does it damage your teeth? Because the acid in your stomach is strong enough to assist in the digestion of all of the food you consume on a daily basis, it can wreak havoc on your teeth’s enamel. In fact, if left untreated, Dr. Kumar says that the acid could eventually eat away at your teeth, causing cavities and dental deformities.
What preventative measures can you take? If you suffer from acid reflux, but luckily it hasn’t affected your teeth too much yet, then Dr. Kumar says there are a few preventative measures you can take to ensure that the problem doesn’t endanger your oral health. For starters, she says, you should sleep with your head elevated by a couple of pillows so that if any acid does come up your esophagus overnight, it won’t be able to enter your mouth. And while there aren’t any special toothpastes or mouth washes to stop decay caused by acid, she explains that you still need to let your dentist know about the problem. In an effort to protect your teeth further, your dentist may also choose to fit you for a specialized mouth guard that will create a barrier over your teeth while you sleep. The guard makes sure that acid doesn’t have the opportunity to come into contact with your teeth, Dr. Kumar adds.
How can you repair damaged teeth? If your acid reflux problem has become destructive enough to harm the enamel of your teeth, then Dr. Kumar says there are definitely ways for your dentist to restore your smile and improve your overall oral health. The particular procedure recommended varies from patient to patient depending on the severity of the decay and the teeth in question. For the most part, however, you will be treated with either fillings, veneers, crowns, or one of many more options depending on the situation. If it’s a particularly serious case, she adds, then a veneer, such as Lumineers, will probably be used because the porcelain is strong enough to withstand acid without becoming damaged. This, in turn, will save the rest of your natural tooth in the process as well.
*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.