Acid Reflux and Dental Health

Feeling the Burn

Acid reflux makes life pretty miserable. Gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, GERD for short, is more than just a bothersome case of heartburn from eating hot nachos. The variety of commercials offering solutions tells you that acid reflux is a common problem among Americans. When digestive acid escapes your stomach and travels upwards, no one has to tell you this is strong stuff — because it burns! And it burns more than just your esophagus — your teeth are also at risk!

What Does GERD Do?

After your mouth chews and swallows your food, it’s time for your stomach to do its work. Stomach acid is powerful, but the lining of your stomach is designed to handle it with a protective mucous coating. After spending time getting churned up by your stomach, the food and liquids are supposed to move on towards your intestines for further digesting. When it all works properly, acid stays where it belongs — in the stomach.

When stomach acid doesn’t stay in its “home,” and migrates up the esophagus instead, this reflux causes any of the following symptoms:

  • heartburn,
  • difficulty swallowing,
  • a choking sensation,
  • coughing,
  • a hoarse voice,
  • bad breath,
  • tooth erosion.

Due to this final factor, our Yuba City dentists may recognize this condition during your regular dental visit. While tooth enamel is tough stuff, stomach acid is stronger, and its affect on your teeth is devastating. Children and babies can also suffer from acid reflux, damaging emerging baby teeth, if left untreated.

Dealing with Acid Reflux

If you suspect you have GERD, it’s important to discuss this with your dentist or your doctor. Over-the-counter medications can help ease the symptoms of occasional acid reflux, but they’re not a long-term solution for chronic GERD. Treatment strategies include ruling out other serious diseases (such as clogged arteries), checking for side effects from prescription medications, supporting your head while sleeping and avoiding GERD trigger foods, such as tomatoes, citrus, onions, chocolate and alcohol. In severe cases that do not respond to any of these therapies, surgical solutions are an option.

While GERD may be common, and the TV commercials alone demonstrate it is a condition many are suffering from, it’s not normal. Protect your teeth by not allowing acid reflux to go unchecked and unstopped. If you have any questions regarding acid reflux and how it has affected your dental health, please discuss them with your dentist at the Yuba City Dentistry Group.


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