When you visit the dentist, the paperwork you fill out typically asks about your health history. One thing dental professionals want to know is whether or not you have ever been diagnosed with acid reflux. This is because there are dental manifestations of acid reflux, so it is important for your dentist to know about your condition.
Dentists can often recognize acid reflux in patients who don’t even know they have it, and can refer them to their physicians for further assistance. Studies show that up to 36 percent of Americans suffer from heartburn at least once a month. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, occurs not just in adults, but also in infants and children. However, acid reflux tends to increase once you turn 40.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, over 7 million Americans suffer from acid reflux that is severe enough to harm their teeth. Many people who suffer from acid reflux are not aware of the damage it does to their teeth until it reaches an advanced stage.
Dental erosion was first reported more than 200 years ago, but it continues to be a major problem today. Research shows that dental erosion first occurred because of occupational or industrial hazards such as exposure to acidic aerosols. Today, though, the chemicals and sugars found in our food and drinks are causing dental erosion.
But there is another, lesser known problem which can cause severe, and even permanent, loss of tooth structure – acid reflux-induced erosion. Acid reflux-induced erosion occurs when stomach contents reflux into the mouth. This stomach acid damages the teeth.
Acidity is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. The lower the pH, the more acid in the solution. Your dental enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5. Your stomach acid has an acidity of 2.0, so you can see why there is a danger there.
Certain types of foods and beverages can cause acid reflux. Those who have a tendency towards GERD should avoid those items. Things like spicy food, fatty foods, fried foods and foods or beverages that contain citric acid can all cause acid reflux, as can dairy products.
Additionally, if you do suffer from acid reflux, make sure your dentist knows so they can treat any erosion issues caused by it.
If your dentist diagnoses dental erosion caused by acid reflux, you should avoid eating acidic foods, refrain from brushing for 60 minutes after a reflux episode, and make sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after an episode. Dissolving sugar-free antacids in your mouth or chewing sugarless gum can help.
Please visit Gables Sedation & Family Denistry soon if you believe acid reflux is harming your teeth!