Acid Reflux and tooth enamel

We have all been told how the acidic properties of sodas and citrus fruits like lemons can wear down our tooth enamel, but patients don’t always think about acid reflux causing the same issues. Patients who suffer from acid reflux are more likely to be at risk from tooth enamel erosion and periodontal disease.

Digestion and Acid Reflux

Our stomach produces natural acids to help with digestion. Occasionally, these acids will travel up the throat and into the mouth, where our saliva will rebalance the pH levels, but patients with acid reflux may have a harder time controlling these levels because of the frequency of the occurrence.

Another issue for these patients is that many medications for acid reflux (or GERD) will cause dry mouth. With dry mouth, there is less saliva to balance the levels in the mouth and there is less saliva to wash away food particles, which increases the risk of bacteria growth in the mouth.

Common Symptoms of Acid Reflux

  • Heartburn – burning pain or discomfort that may move from your stomach to your chest or even throat
  • Regurgitation – a bitter acidic taste backing up into your mouth or throat
  • Nausea or upset stomach
  • Chronic sore throat or dry cough
  • Constant burping or hiccups that will not stop

If you notice that you are experiencing the symptoms above, visit your doctor to discuss options for testing. It is possible your dentist may even recognize signs beforehand, just by seeing the changes in your teeth. Thinning or yellowish teeth or sharp edges can be signs that your enamel is wearing away.

As always, never hesitate to speak with your dentist or primary care physician and ask questions.