Acid Reflux and Your Smile

Do you suffer from acid reflux? Chances are, your dentist can tell. The consequences of acid reflux go beyond your stomach. Your smile can also suffer. In fact, acid reflux can cause irreversible damage to your teeth by eroding the enamel.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than seven million people suffer from severe acid reflux. Acid reflux-induced erosion, a condition that occurs when stomach contents reflux into the mouth, can wreak havoc on your smile if not treated or managed properly.

To understand just how destructive acid reflux is to your teeth, it is important to know the basics of pH levels and your dental enamel. The lower the pH level, on a scale of 0 to 14, the more acidic a substance is. Dental enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5. Your stomach acid can reach a low of 2.0. Therefore, your acid reflux condition can profoundly influence the health of your tooth structure, especially if it is repeatedly present over a long period of time.

What Can You Do?

In a 2015 article from the Academy of General Dentistry, the following tips are given to help patients who have been diagnosed with acid reflux-induced erosion:

  • Avoid eating acidic foods and foods that can cause acid reflux (tomatoes, citric fruits, spicy & fried foods, fatty meats, dairy, chocolate and caffeine are all culprits)
  • Avoid brushing for 60 minutes after reflux episodes
  • Rinse mouth with water after reflux episodes
  • Take a sugar-free antacid and let it dissolve in the mouth
  • Chew xylitol gum or other sugarless gums, lozenges or candies
  • Controlling your acid reflux condition is the best thing you can do for the health of your teeth. Follow up with your primary care doctor to ask about proper medications and treatment for acid reflux before it causes irreversible damage to your smile.

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