The highly corrosive stomach acid associated with acid reflux disease can damage your teeth and the surrounding soft tissue when it travels up your oesophagus and into your mouth. Even when you take medication to reduce the acid content of your stomach, damage can quickly occur during a severe episode of reflux. Here's an overview of three ways the condition can damage your teeth and gums and three ways your dentist can help:
3 Ways Reflux Can Impact Your Teeth And Gums
Acid reflux disease can cause the following:
- Enamel Damage - The protective enamel coating on your teeth can gradually be eroded by stomach acid, which leaves your teeth susceptible to discolouration from the food you eat and infection due to bacteria being able to colonise the soft pulp and roots of your teeth.
- Decay - Enamel erosion also leads to tooth decay, but another reason those with acid reflux disease experience tooth decay is they commonly use lozenges to ease their symptoms. Sucking on a lozenge can stimulate saliva production, which neutralises the burning sensation you get when stomach acid reaches your throat. However, the sugar in lozenges acts as a food source to bacteria.
- Bacterial Overgrowth - When the environment in your mouth is acidic, bacteria thrive and create plaque. Certain reflux medications can leave you with a dry mouth, and without enough saliva, which is alkaline, your mouth becomes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. When sticky plaque forms around your teeth, your gums can become irritated and inflamed, which can lead to gum disease.
3 Ways Your Dentist Can Help
Once your dentist has assessed the health of your teeth and gums, they can recommend treatment options to reduce the risk of further damage to your teeth. Effective treatment includes the following:
- Oral Hygiene Products - There are a number of products available through your dentist that can strengthen and protect your tooth enamel, such as fluoride gel. This gel repels acid and protects your teeth from plaque. Alternatively, your dentist may recommend xylitol after meals, which is a natural plant extract that can reduce bacteria levels in your mouth.
- Changes To Your Teeth Cleaning Routine - An acid reflux episode can have you reaching for your toothbrush, but you may actually be doing more harm if you brush weakened enamel that's just been exposed to stomach acid. Your dentist can review your oral hygiene practices and suggest modifications that will offer some protection during reflux episodes, such as using sodium bicarbonate before brushing to reduce the potency of the acid residue in your mouth.
- Restoration - If your teeth are severely damaged, you may feel self-conscious when you smile and may experience pain as a result of broken or cracked teeth. Your dentist can use restorative treatment options, such as crowns or veneers, to both improve the cosmetic appearance of your teeth and strengthen your teeth.
If you're overdue a dental examination, schedule an appointment as soon as possible, as prompt treatment can prevent tooth loss. For more information, contact a local dental clinic.