How to Protect Your Teeth From Acid Reflux

January 28, 2021by admin

As if your teeth don’t have enough problems, you may have to deal with something that may not even seem remotely related — acid reflux. Yes, acid reflux is mainly a digestive problem. However, it can greatly impact your dental health. This condition happens when your stomach produces too much acid, and it comes back up through your esophagus. The acid in your mouth can wreak havoc on your gums and the enamel of your teeth.

 

The effects this digestive issue has on your dental health ranges from mild to severe. Dentists call it acid or tooth erosion. We have listed a few tips and tricks so you know how to prevent acid reflux and keep the effects of acid erosion on teeth at bay.

Acid vs. Teeth: What Happens During Acid Reflux

Excess acid breaks down your teeth's protective enamel

Your teeth are protected by an external layer called enamel, which is made up mostly of calcium, the same minerals found in seashells, hence the term “pearly whites”. Acid, while it plays an essential role in breaking down food, is equally destructive when produced in excess. 

 

Normally, water and saliva can balance out the acid. Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case when you have acid reflux.

 

The big question is: can acid reflux rot your teeth? Yes, it absolutely can. The more acid attacks the enamel in your teeth, the more exposed your teeth are to bacteria and plaque buildup. These 2 things, as we have known from countless toothpaste commercials, can cause chronic pain, decay, or severe cases of bad breath and/or tooth discolouration

 

When left unchecked, tooth erosion can lead to abscesses or even tooth loss. 

 

GERD vs. Acid Reflux: What’s the Difference?

Inspect for early signs of GERD-related tooth erosion 

If you have been reading about acid reflux, you must have come across the term “gastroesophageal reflux disease”, or GERD. In layman’s terms, GERD is the chronic (i.e. long-term and recurring) form of acid reflux. 

 

Having GERD runs a higher risk of tooth erosion, simply because your body can’t help but keep on producing acid even if it’s not meant to. 

 

Whether you have the occasional acid reflux or have been suffering from GERD for an extended period of time, you can exhibit a wide range of oral symptoms, including: 

  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Chalky, yellowing enamel, which may erode in due time
  • Excess saliva production
  • Difficult, often painful, swallowing
  • Discomfort or irritation in the mouth
  • Chronic tooth sensitivity
  • Chronic tooth decay

 

Your dentist can tell a lot about you from your first checkup. The earlier these signs and symptoms are spotted, the earlier you can establish the connection between your acid reflux and the dwindling quality of your dental and oral health.

 

Your Teeth Versus Acid Reflux: Preventive Tips and Effective Tricks

Treatments for acid reflux include antacids, H2 receptor blockers, and PPIs

Most GERD patients are advised to take acid reflux medication, which dries out the mouth when constantly taken. Ironically, this lessens the production of saliva, which in turn creates more opportunity for any upcoming acid reflux attack to terrorize your teeth. 

 

This is why aside from the usual solution of over-the-counter antacids and other known treatments for GERD, a change in diet and lifestyle is suggested, if not highly encouraged, by many dental health professionals.

 

The fight to protecting your teeth from the dangers of acid reflux begins with you. Know how to neutralize acid reflux and keep it from wreaking havoc in your mouth.

 

  • Rethink What You Eat

Citrus-based items can potentially damaging your teeth

Cut back on sugary, carbonated, processed, spicy, and acidic foods. That includes soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, citruses, candies, canned goods, and a whole other bunch of goodies. If you’re keen on salads, double-check how much dressing you’re tossing along with the good veggies and fruits. It’s not what you eat. It’s how you eat them. 

 

If you have been diagnosed with GERD, it’s best to eliminate the soda pop, wine, and other acidic stuff completely from your diet. 

 

  • Schedule Your Meals

Eat proper and scheduled meals instead of constantly snacking intermittently all day through. This helps your stomach control the amount of acid it needs to release to digest all the food you’re eating. Three main meals and 2 snack times should keep you from feeling hungry. Snacks 3 to 4 hours before bed are definitely a no-no for those who run the risk of nighttime acid reflux.

 

  • Use a Straw

Using a straw prevents the acid from getting into your teeth

This does not lessen how much acid there is in your drink, but using a straw especially when drinking acidic beverages lessens the contact between the substance and your teeth. If you’re confident your acid reflux won’t act up with that glass of Coke you’re having, at least don’t let the acid touch your teeth.

 

  • Improve the Quality of Your Sleep

Your body doesn’t stop functioning when you sleep. The danger of having an acid reflux attack while you’re asleep is that acid might move up your esophagus easily when lying on your back with your head on a standard pillow. To lessen such danger, you can choose to invest on a wedge pillow, which elevates your upper body, thereby lessening the chances of acid creeping up into your throat during your unconscious time.

 

  • Drink Water

Because water is the least harmful, if not entirely friendly, substance to put inside your body, drink lots of it to help your body wash and balance out the acids that it may abnormally generate during the course of your day. If your mouth feels weird after eating, rinse it with water first before proceeding to brush your teeth.

 

  • Don’t Brush Your Teeth Immediately After Eating

Because acid softens your enamel, it makes your teeth more vulnerable to damage while exposed to the up and down friction when brushing. When you brush after you eat, you’re not doing your teeth any favours, at all — especially if you have GERD. Wait for 30 minutes before brushing.

 

  • Make Your Own Mouthwash

Slather, rinse, repeat the baking soda toothpaste ritual

If there’s a sour taste in your mouth, don’t brush it because it’s clearly acidic and brushing will just cause more enamel loss. Instead, you can use a DIY mouthwash made of water and baking soda. Alternatively, use fluoride toothpaste dipped in baking soda to rub on your teeth, and rinse the solution with water. 

 

  • Stock on Sugarfree Gum

While you are generally discouraged from sweets in order to maintain healthy teeth, those with acid reflux can get away with sugar-free chewing gum, like Xylitol. Xylitol facilitates the production of saliva, which your body badly needs in order to fight any possibilities of acid regurgitation.

 

  • Pay Your Physician (and Your Dentist) a Visit

While prevention is always better than cure, there’s also nothing like getting the professional help you need and deserve. Recurring events of acid reflux may mean you have GERD, so it would be best to go to your physician to get diagnosed. The sooner you know something’s wrong, the sooner you know how to handle it.

 

If you’re worried about tooth erosion because you have GERD, the occasional acid reflux, or other issues like teeth grinding, you can always set an appointment at Lakeside Family Dental. Contact us at (905) 637-0801, or email us at info@lakesidefamilydental.ca to book your dental appointment today.

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Michelle sherwoodMichelle sherwood
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Absolutely amazing! Very highly recommend! Everyone made me feel welcome and always made me feel at ease as I was very anxious and embarrassed. I required Dentures the whole experience was awesome from start to finish. Very highly skilled! I drove one hour to and from each appointment and it was worth it!
Gary SheaGary Shea
14:14 26 Jul 22
The service is excellent by all the staff and Dr Cohen is by far the best dentist that I have ever been to. He is knowledgeable and experienced and ensures that you are comfortable while he is working on your teeth. Many people are concerned with the freezing process when having work done, but Dr. Cohen is so good that you will literally not feel anything. I would highly recommend Dr. Cohen.
David GagnerDavid Gagner
18:50 15 Jun 22
There is no joy living with bad teeth. Less joy understanding how expensive help can be. Most centres are more concerned with money, rather than the patient. Lakeside, Dr. Cohen and the team, are amazing. Why? Because they put me first. Are honest with options and realistic treatment. They want the same thing that I have wanted for years, to see me smile again. I believe in their team, their approach and their desire to make a difference for every patient. They have my trust.
John WrightJohn Wright
20:10 11 May 22
Dr Michael did a great job on my first implant. I was so impressed with the high level of personal service that I transferred my account from a dentist where I had a 20+ year relationship. I feel Lakeshore Dental can serve me better as I need more crowns and implants. The office is clean, spacious and as safe as any business can be. I recommend Dr Michael and his excellent and very friendly support team
Michelle OagMichelle Oag
14:17 09 May 22
I was recommended this dental office by a coworker, I've had many dentists before that didn't understand how sensitive my teeth actually are and since my very first appointment here I knew I finally found the one. They are extremely friendly, very knowledgeable and will answer any questions you might have. Very professional and clean environment. They bill your insurance directly which is a huge relief, I'm so happy to have a dentist I can trust. They are so gentle, you also don't feel the needles going in! This is the first dental office where I didn't feel ANY pain whatsoever. I cannot say enough good things about them.
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