Heartburn, a condition that is often downplayed as a minor inconvenience, can be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). Also known as acid reflux, this disease occurs when acid from the stomach frequently flows back into the esophagus. The acid damages the lining of the esophagus, causing swelling, and may increase the risk of esophageal cancer. People often do not notice the tooth damage that GERD causes until it is severe enough to cause pain. Taking measures to protect your teeth from stomach acid can help preserve your oral health.
Exposure to acid of any kind will damage your teeth. Studies have found that tooth enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5. Stomach acid has a pH of 2.0, which means that it is acidic enough to strip away your enamel. People suffering from GERD often have the most enamel damage on the backs of their teeth, especially toward the back of the mouth.
Eroded enamel leaves your teeth vulnerable to staining and decay. Even when your enamel has been stripped away, stomach acid continues to corrode the surface of your teeth, removing dentin and eventually reaching the pulp in the center of your tooth. In some cases, teeth are weakened by the stomach acid exposure and chip or crack more easily. Many people develop tooth decay as a result of frequent use of antacids that are high in sugar. Tooth sensitivity may also develop with GERD.
While you work with a physician to create a recovery plan for your GERD symptoms, it is also important to take care of your existing tooth damage and prevent future damage. Alongside taking steps to prevent acid reflux episodes, there are several measures you can take to prevent tooth damage, especially at night. Avoid taking antacids that contain large amounts of sugar in order to prevent tooth decay and staining. You should also avoid brushing your teeth within 30 minutes of a reflux episode because acid softens your enamel and scrubbing at your teeth while the enamel is soft can cause further damage. Instead, gently rinse your mouth with water right away to remove the acid.
Continuing your regular dentistry checkups and cleanings can help protect your teeth and detect any problems that are developing. If your teeth have been chipped as a result of GERD, the damage could be fixed through the use of cosmetic dentistry. Porcelain veneers can be placed that will cover the damage and offer protection to the tooth. These veneers are color matched with your other teeth so that they look natural, making them nearly invisible. Decay that develops can also be treated and the cavity can be filled with white fillings to provide you with a more natural looking smile.
If you experience GERD and would like help developing a treatment and protection plan for your teeth, please call 509-532-1111 for an appointment at Collins Dentistry & Aesthetics in Spokane.
Or office in Spokane is located at:
3151 E. 28th Ave.
Spokane, WA 99223
Office phone # 509-532-1111