When you think about preventing cavities and tooth decay, you probably picture regular brushing and flossing, and the avoidance of sugary foods and drinks. But there’s another factor that can dramatically impact the lifespan and appearance of your teeth: acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs when the muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach is weakened and doesn’t close properly, allowing the acid secreted by your stomach to flow into your esophagus. Stomach acid is vital for digestion, but when it touches the walls of your esophagus, it can lead to chest pain, difficulty swallowing, and a lumpy feeling in your throat.
If you suspect you have acid reflux, our guide below explains how it affects your teeth and what you can do to protect your long-term dental health. For more information, be sure to visit to Dr. David Blaustein.
Enamel is a thin, yet strong layer of bone that envelops and protects teeth. Acids from dietary sources and from your stomach can wear down enamel and lead to early tooth decay.
Unfortunately, enamel doesn’t regenerate once it’s destroyed. However, with the right dental care, you can prevent enamel damage and treat teeth that have already been affected.
Less protection against bacteria
Dry mouth is indirectly caused by acid reflux. More specifically, it’s caused by the medication used to treat the condition.
Acid reflux medicines often decrease the amount of saliva you produce in your mouth. This works against you in two ways: Your teeth are no longer protected by saliva against acids, and the saliva no longer washes away the food particles that cling to the surface of your teeth.
Chronic periodontitis (gum disease)
Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in older adults, and it’s often associated with poor hygiene habits, inflammation, and aging. However, one study suggests that GERD may also increase your risk for periodontitis.
Learn more about how to protect your teeth against acid reflux
By avoiding alcohol, cigarettes, and spicy foods, you may reduce your acid reflux episodes. But once you’ve been diagnosed with GERD, it’s important to speak to your dentist about your condition and come up with a preventive plan for your dental health.
This may include switching to a prescription toothpaste and visiting a dentist regularly, as teeth with weaker enamel are more likely to develop cavities and decay.
If you live in or near Chelsea, New York, contact us to schedule an appointment and get expert advice on how to protect your teeth against acid reflux.