What is Acid Reflux / GERD?
Most people have experienced heartburn at some time, but daily heartburn (or acid indigestion) is a common symptom of Chronic Acid Reflux – also known as Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD). Acid reflux occurs when muscles of the lower esophagus relax and allow stomach acids to flow up into the esophagus and even the mouth. As it progresses further, and develops into GERD, the esophageal muscles are unable to keep stomach acids from flowing upwards, causing corrosion of the esophageal lining and the burning sensation of heartburn and eventual corroding of teeth.
GERD can be difficult to detect, but some signs and symptoms are:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Burning sensation in mouth
- Sore throat
- Nausea, vomiting, belching
- Chronic coughing
- Erosion of tooth enamel
- Tooth sensitivity
- Chipping, discoloration of teeth
- Bad breath
What Can You Do to Reduce the Symptoms?
If you suspect you suffer from Acid Reflux or GERD, we recommend seeing your physician for diagnosis. Though GERD is a chronic condition, its symptoms can be treated using medications and lifestyle modifications. You can reduce GERD symptoms by:
- Avoiding trigger foods: chocolate, spicy/greasy foods, tomato-based foods, alcohol, and coffee.
- Quitting smoking.
- Refraining from eating several hours before bed, or lying down two to three hours after eating.
- Losing weight if you are overweight or obese.
- Avoiding tight clothing.
How Can You Protect Your Teeth?
Over time, GERD can erode tooth enamel. Research shows that enamel erodes at a pH (acid level) of 5.5. With a pH of less than 2.0, your stomach acid can damage the enamel on your teeth and cause hot/cold sensitivity, decay, discoloration and chipping. Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent acid reflux from damaging your teeth. In addition to brushing twice a day, you can take the following steps to ensure GERD doesn’t affect your oral health:
- Visit us twice a year to evaluate the condition of your enamel and treat problems while they’re small.
- Use dentin-sensitive toothpaste, such as Sensodyne or ProEnamel.
- Rinse your mouth with water after acid reflux episodes or, even better, dissolve baking soda in water and swish to neutralize the acids.
- Do not brush your teeth for 60 minutes after consuming acidic foods or drinks.
- Receive fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth.
- Avoid over-the-counter antacids, especially at night, that have high sugar content.
If you have any questions, please call 404-255-6782.