Are you a chronic sufferer of acid reflux? The uncomfortable and sometimes painful sensation of heartburn may not be all you need to worry about. That bitter and undesirable taste of stomach acid coming back up into your mouth can actually wreak havoc on your oral health as well. The high levels of acidity entering your mouth can, over time, weaken your tooth enamel and disrupt the essential pH balance of your saliva that protects your teeth.
It is important for your mouth’s saliva to maintain a natural pH balance in order to rebuild the minerals in your teeth. Saliva helps to wash away food particles and keep your mouth clean. However, when you have acid reflux, your are introducing disruptive stomach acid into your mouth which can overpower the beneficial properties of saliva and thus weaken the thin outer layer of your teeth, also called tooth enamel. Over time, your chronic acid reflux could actually erode this outer layer completely and expose the dentin layer of your tooth, which leads to many serious oral health complications. If you have any of the following symptoms of tooth erosion caused by acid reflux, it is important that you discuss them with your dentist:
- Mouth pain or irritation
- Food and drink sensitivity (cold, hot or sweet)
- Sharp edges on teeth
- Discoloration and darkening of teeth
- Shortened or thinning teeth
There are ways to protect your teeth from acid reflux damage. You can drink plenty of water to wash away the acidity or chew sugarless gum to encourage healthy saliva production. Visit your dentist for ways to combat acid reflux in your mouth, such as with fluoride treatments or even by wearing a custom mouthguard to protect your teeth at night.
Your acid reflux condition often requires you to make intentional efforts in eating and other lifestyle habits to keep it under control. However, do not forget about taking the necessary steps to protect your teeth as well. Be sure to tell your dentist at your next routine dental check-up that you suffer from acid reflux. If your reflux has already caused severe damage to your teeth, there are options in cosmetic dentistry, such as porcelain veneers, to make sure your smile is looking its best.