As a general dentist, we treat patients that have suffered from tooth erosion due to acid reflux. This condition impacts more than seven million U.S. adults. Acid reflux is known for causing discomfort, making it difficult to sleep and unenjoyable to eat. What most people don’t know is that acid reflux can negatively impact teeth as well. It can lead to a condition referred to as reflux-induced erosion.
When teeth erode, the enamel on the outside starts to break down and wear away. Enamel is essential for protecting teeth and preventing them from feeling sensitive of uncomfortable. The dentin underneath the enamel is porous so as it becomes exposed food, drinks and even air the nerves inside of the dentin will send a pain signal to the brain. This is what leads to sudden and sharp tooth pain when a cavity isn’t present. As teeth erode, they can also be susceptible to breakage and further damage. Therefore, it is important to prevent this condition whenever possible.
As a general dentist, we recommend that patients have their teeth cleaned at least twice a year. During your appointment tell us if acid reflux is a health problem. If it is, we can identify ways to strengthen and protect teeth so that the erosion can be prevented or stopped. In some cases, this may involve sealing or bonding the teeth. If damage has already occurred, a dental crown may be a better solution since a crown is a cap that surrounds the tooth completely, preventing anything from touching it. Crowns can be used on both front and back teeth since they come in both silver amalgam and ceramic.
If you are one of the seven million people living with acid reflux, take these steps to stay healthy at home.
- Take medication. Your general doctor can prescribe you medication in order to control your reflux and help with any other stomach issues that you may be having. Taking a pill once a day can help you to stay comfortable and prevent your teeth from suffering erosion.
- Use an antacid. After a reflux episode, you can use an antacid to start feeling better. Some people also report that chewing sugar-free gum helps them to feel better.
- Rinse your mouth. Don’t brush your teeth for an hour after an episode. Instead, rinse your mouth with water in order to remove the acid safely. Your teeth will be very sensitive so when you do brush, use a soft toothbrush instead of a hard one.
- Avoid acidic foods. Don’t eat lemon, limes or other citrus foods that are known to be acidic. They can deposit further acid onto your teeth and put them at a greater risk of erosion.
- Watch what you eat. Certain foods that are high in fat along with dairy, chocolate and spicy foods are known to cause acid reflux. By avoiding them, you can be healthier overall and so can your teeth.
When you visit our general dentist office let us know if you are suffering from acid reflux so that we can inspect your teeth for erosion and look for ways to treat and protect them.
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