Acid Reflux, the Body and Teeth

What is Acid reflux? Acid reflux is a condition where stomach acid comes up from the stomach into the esophagus. It is normally caused by alterations in the barrier between the stomach and the esophagus.  Not only does acid reflux affect the body but it is also damaging to the teeth.  If left untreated there is an increased risk of cancer, dental erosion, and  death of tissue causing ulcers around the stomach and esophagus.

What causes acid reflux?

  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • High intake of table salt
  • Low physical exercise
  • Specific medications

(Although it is sometimes unclear as to what may be causing acid reflux, these are the most common.)

What are symptoms?

  • Dry, persistent cough
  • Wheezing
  • Asthma and recurrent pneumonia
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Throat problems – soreness, hoarseness, or laryngitis (voice box inflammation)
  • Difficulty or pain when swallowing
  • Chest or upper abdominal pain
  • Dental erosion
  • Bad breath
  • Heartburn (a rising, burning feeling in the chest)
  • Sour or bitter taste

How is acid reflux treated?

There are three common treatments for acid reflux

  1. Antacids: These neutralize stomach acid. They can provide fast relief from occasional heartburn.  Antacids are meant for temporary use.
  2. H2 Blockers: These reduce acid production in the stomach by blocking a signal that leads to acid secretion.  This treatment can help heal damage that had already been caused by acid reflux.
  3. Proton pump inhibitors: This treatment turns off some acid pumps in the stomach providing less acid in the stomach which can help relieve heartburn and help heal already damaged tissue.

What does it do to your teeth?

Acid erosion is a form of tooth wear caused by acid softening the surface of tooth enamel.  Whether it is from an acidic diet, acid reflux, or eating disorder (bulimia) acid erosion causes severe damage to the teeth.  Acid dematerializes and softens the tooth surface, making it more susceptible to physical damage, even by brushing.

Be sure to talk to you Golden, CO Dentist if you have been treated or have acid reflux so we can help protect your teeth from future damage