Most systemic diseases affect the oral cavity, and acid reflux disease is sadly no exception. Although not primarily a dental illness, acid reflux disease does have negative connotations for the teeth, and does warrant special attention. Acid reflux disorder is sometimes also called acid indigestion.
Dental effects of acid reflux disease
The main problem is that acid reflux disease causes erosion of the teeth. Even if you take care of your teeth and keep them clean, the constant acidic environment dissolves the bonds between the fluoride and the calcium minerals, and destroys the tooth enamel. This will cause discoloration of the teeth, bad breath, tooth sensitivity and eventually cavities to form. Patients who suffer from acid reflux disease are considered at risk patients for tooth decay.
Acid reflux in children
There is a negative stereotype that acid reflux is a disease that primarily affects mostly adults, and is associated with drinking. This is not true, as acid reflux disease can be found in all age groups, there is even baby acid reflux. This is especially bad as the teeth develop in an acidic environment and cannot take up the minerals needed to become healthy. Children with acid reflux disease need a special diet, and might need more frequent dental checkups.
What can be done
The more you treat the source of your acid reflux disease, the less dental problems you will have because of your acid indigestion. Prevention is always the best weapon against disease, so if your reflux is caused by certain foods, avoiding them is a good first step.
Talk to your dentist when you go for checkups or appointments, and tell them that you have reflux disease. The dentist will thus check for signs of acid erosion, and can remineralize your teeth with fluoride gels and ointments, and can help give you tips to minimize the damage caused to your tooth enamel.If you have acid reflux disease, here are a few tips that can help you preserve your teeth:
- Acidic foods can cause reflux episodes. Avoid eating vinegary, sour foods, or citrus fruits, or only consume them in moderation.
- Sugar free antacids are not only good for your stomach; they are also good for your teeth. They dissolve and leave a coating of minerals on your teeth that can remineralize them, and antacids also create a neutral pH level in your mouth.
- After a reflux episode, it is important to rinse your mouth out with water to minimize acid damage to your tooth enamel. Do not brush your teeth for 60 minutes after a reflux episode, as your enamel may be further damaged. Neutralize your mouth’s pH and then brush.