Did you know that there are conditions beyond your oral health that your dentist can detect? Acid reflux is one of them. The truth is, while acid reflux is a problem of the gut, its consequences can be seen throughout your smile. Acid is a surefire way to destroy your tooth enamel, whether it is from the acidic drinks you consume or the reflux of your own stomach acids. Unfortunately, enamel erosion can be a source of irreversible damage to your smile.
If you suffer from acid reflux, you are not alone. In fact, more than 7 million people experience severe acid reflux according to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It is condition that is not only disruptive and uncomfortable to deal with, but it can also wreak havoc on your smile if not managed properly.
To grasp just how destructive acid reflux is to your teeth, it is important to understand how pH levels react to your dental enamel (which is the outermost layer of your teeth). The lower the pH number, the more acidic and damaging the product is for your teeth. Dental enamel begins to dissolve at a pH of 5.5. Your stomach acid, however, can register as low as 2.0! Once your enamel erodes, you may experience tooth sensitivity, yellowed teeth and an increased vulnerability to decay.
What Can You Do?
Working with your primary care physician to control your acid reflux condition is the best way to fight its harmful effects on your smile. For further help, the Academy of General Dentistry issued the following tips to help patients who have acid reflux-induced erosion:
- 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)
- Avoid brushing for 60 minutes after reflux episodes
- Rinse mouth with water after reflux episodes
- Take a sugar-free antacid and let it dissolve in the mouth
- Chew xylitol gum or other sugarless gums, lozenges or candies
If you are unsure whether or not your acid reflux is compromising your dental health, please schedule an appointment with Family Smiles Dental. We provide a thorough evaluation of your teeth and gums at your routine visits, ensuring that we detect and treat minor dental problems before they become irreversible or costly.
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