Did you know Acid Reflux could be damaging your teeth?
It’s been know for years that certain everyday acidic foods and drinks (lemons, pickles, sodas and sugary, starchy goods) have been associated with tooth decay. Today more and more people have tooth erosion due to gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD or Acid reflux).
Since so many people are affected by acid reflux today, it is now very important to be aware that acid reflux-induced erosion causes permanent and severe loss of tooth structure over time. This condition occurs when stomach acids reflux into the mouth. A study that appeared in the March/April 2009 issue of General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry’s (AGD) clinical, reviewed the damages acid reflux can cause on your teeth.
David Lazarchik, DMD, lead author of the study said that, “patients often are not aware of the damage that reflux-induced erosion has caused to their teeth until it has reached an advanced stage of destruction.”
The pH is a standard way to measure the acidity of a substance. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. The lower the pH means that the solution contains more acid. The higher the pH, the more alkaline (or non-acidic) the solution. Acidic foods are typically citrus fruits for example, a common one is the lemon which is very acidic so it has a low pH that varies between 2.2 and 2.4.
“Dental enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5,” says Dr. Lazarchik. Because stomach acid has an extremely low pH of between 1.35 and 3.5, it definitely has the potential to cause significant erosion of the enamel on your teeth.
Certain foods, beverages and habits are known to trigger symptoms of acid reflux and as preventive measure, individuals should be aware of the foods they consume. Spicy, fatty, fried foods, citric fruits and beverages and dairy products can lead to frequent heartburn.
In addition to taking the steps necessary to establish a healthier lifestyle and to reduce reflux, you should always tell your dentist about your medical history.
Treating acid reflux-induced enamel erosion without treating and preventing the medical condition that causes the erosion (Acid Reflux) may only lead to more severe problems for your mouth.
If Acid Reflux-Induced Erosion is Diagnosed it is important to immediately make the necessary lifestyle changes to help reduce the reflux. Some of the immediate, non-prescription changes you can make are:
1) 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).
2) Sleep head elevated with a Gravity1st™ mattress to prevent stomach acids from refluxing into your mouth during sleep.
3) If you are overweight it is important to lose weight with diet and exercise
4) Avoid brushing your teeth for 60 minutes after reflux episodes
5) Rinse mouth with water after reflux episodes
6) Take a sugar-free antacid and let it dissolve in the mouth
7) Chew xylitol gum or other sugarless gums, lozenges or candies