Do Stomach Issues Affect Your Oral Health?

Acid Reflux And GERD – Just How Dangerous Are They?

The short answer, right off the bat, is yes – stomach issues can affect your oral health. In some instances, stomach problems show up in your mouth as oral sores, cause bad breath, and gastrointestinal problems can even ruin your enamel and damage your teeth.

On the other hand, your oral health can also cause some stomach problems, like indigestion due to poor chewing or bacteria imbalance. However, some of the most popular gastrointestinal problems that can affect your teeth are Acid Reflux and GERD. Keep reading and find out how to fight them!

Acid Reflux Vs. GERD – what’s the difference

Even though these terms are often intertwined and used like they mean the same thing – they don’t. Acid reflux is a more common medical condition, while GERD or gastroesophageal reflux disease, is the chronic form of acid reflux.

To understand what acid reflux is, you have to know some gastrointestinal basics. For example, there is a circular muscle that mobilizes your esophagus (the muscular tube connecting your throat with your stomach).

This muscle, called Lower Esophageal Sphincter, tightens your esophagus after food passes to your stomach. If the muscle doesn’t do that correctly and stays loose, the acid from your stomach that handles breaking down food, can move backwards and go into your esophagus. The esophagus doesn’t have the same tough lining to protect it from acidity as the stomach does, so the acid can do some damage to it and your mouth.

And that’s acid reflux. If it happens more than twice a week or causes inflammation in the esophagus, it can lead to GERD or even cancer.

Signs of Acid Reflux and GERD

Some of the symptoms of acid reflux are:

  • Cough
  • Heartburn
  • Sore Throat
  • Bitter Taste In The Back Of The Throat

With GERD, those symptoms are:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth damage
  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Regurgitation
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Dry cough

However, just because you have heartburn, doesn’t mean you have GERD, don’t worry! Most people experience heartburn and acid reflux after they eat a specific food item, or lie down after eating. If you notice heartburn and other symptoms often, consult with your physician.

Does Acid Reflux Cause Teeth Problems And How?

Yes, acid reflux and GERD can cause teeth problems in the same way any acid can.

We already talked about how important it is to avoid alcohol and certain food with a high level of acidity. That’s because acid is one of the teeth’s biggest enemies. It can cause erosion of the enamel and ultimately cause not only cavities but bigger issues as well. In the same way that acid can ruin your teeth, stomach acid that comes back to your mouth can too.

But, unlike the acid from alcohol or coffee, stomach acid is way more acidic, so it can cause major problems, faster. Stomach acid can cause your teeth to be more sensitive, pitted, and yellow. If not treated on time, your teeth could be damaged beyond repair.

Can Acid Reflux Affect Gums?

Yes, acid from your stomach can negatively affect your gums and raise the risk of developing gum disease that attacks your gum tissue, recede your gums and increases your risk of losing your teeth.

How Can I Protect My Teeth From Acid Reflux And GERD

First, if you notice you have acid reflux more frequently, visit both your physician and your dentist. The best way of keeping track of your oral health is by visiting your dentist regularly. If you do that, the chance for early treatment increases and so does the chance of saving your teeth.

Next, quit smoking and avoid certain food. Yes, coffee doesn’t damage your teeth as much as stomach acid, but did you know that coffee is among the biggest reasons people have acid reflux? So, avoiding coffee, alcohol and other food that could cause acid reflux should be your top priority. Sweets and spicy food are other examples of food that cause acid reflux.

Use fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your enamel, chew sugar-free gum and increase the amount of saliva you have in your mouth (saliva is a great fighter against acidity!), drink lots of water, and wait for at least an hour after a meal to brush your teeth.

How Can Your Dentist Help?

As mentioned above, if you keep your visits regular, your dentist can see early signs of tooth decay and other issues. That will help with treatment and get everything back to normal. Also, your dentist in Orleans can offer custom tips, talk about the different kinds of treatment with you, and more. Reach out and see how we can help!

Tips To Keep Acid Reflux From Damaging Your Teeth

  • See a dentist every six months minimum
  • Brush and floss every day
  • Check your diet- find out which food causes acid reflux for you (peaches, tomatoes, apples, sweets and spicy
  • food are some of the most common ones!)
  • Increase the amount of saliva in your mouth
  • Drink plenty of water

The Takeaway

Acid Reflux is not only uncomfortable, but it can cause a lot of damage to your teeth as well. In order to protect your teeth from acidity, it would be best to avoid certain food and habits that contribute to the reflux. However, sometimes there are no rules, acid reflux will find its way to your mouth and cause bad things to happen. That’s why regular visits and good oral hygiene are crucial if you want to keep your teeth. Healthy. Give us a call and let us help you smile!