Acid reflux disease can cause stomach acid to travel up your oesophagus and into your mouth. When this highly corrosive acid comes into contact with your teeth and the soft tissue in your mouth it can cause discomfort and serious damage. Here's an overview of how acid reflux disease can damage your oral health and how your dentist can help:
3 Ways Acid Reflux Disease Can Damage Your Oral Health
- Enamel Erosion - Acid from your stomach can strip away the protective enamel coating on your teeth. Without enamel, your teeth can become discoloured and bacteria can cause infection in the roots and soft pulp of your teeth. Your teeth will also break more easily and may need to be extracted if left untreated.
- Decay - Acid reflux disease leaves you susceptible to decay as a result of enamel loss, but decay can also be caused by sucking on lozenges containing sugar. Patients with acid reflux disease will often suck lozenges to soothe their mouth, but bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and produce acid as a waste product.
- Dry Mouth - Some medications used to treat the symptoms of acid reflux disease can cause you to develop a dry mouth. Without sufficient levels of saliva, which is alkaline, bacteria levels can quickly get out of hand. Bacteria find alkaline environments hostile, but a dry mouth tends to be acidic and allows bacteria to thrive. Bacteria combine with food particles to form plaque, which sticks to your teeth and causes an inflammatory reaction around your gum line, which can trigger gum disease.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Your dentist can assess the extent of damage caused by acid flowing backwards into your mouth and work with you to develop a treatment plan that will protect your teeth from further damage. Their recommendations may include:
- Dental Products - Your dentist can recommend products to improve your oral health such as toothpastes that can strengthen tooth enamel and fluoride gel, which protects your teeth by forming a strong barrier and repelling acid and plaque. They can also advise you on how and when to use xylitol-containing products. Xylitol is known to reduce bacteria levels, so it's ideal to have on hand after meals.
- Oral Hygiene Modifications - After experiencing an uncomfortable episode of acid flowing up into your mouth, you may want to reach for your toothbrush. However, brushing already weakened teeth immediately after acid enters your mouth can cause further damage to the enamel. Your dentist can discuss the best time to brush your teeth with you and recommend changes to your regime such as rinsing with sodium bicarbonate to neutralise the acid.
- Restorative Treatment - If your teeth are badly damaged, your dentist may suggest using crowns or veneers to protect your teeth from further erosion. Crowns and veneers fit over your teeth and improve the strength of your teeth. They can also be used to restore broken teeth to their natural shape and cover discoloured teeth.
If you're concerned about the impact of acid reflux disease on your dental health, schedule an appointment with a dentist at a clinic like Creative Dentistry to learn about how you can protect your teeth and mouth.