As a Long Branch dentist, we answer a lot of questions about how to keep teeth healthy. Patients ask about risk factors and what they need to avoid in order to prevent teeth infection. One of the common risk factors is acid reflux. Many patients are unaware that acid reflux can directly impact the health of teeth.
Here is what you need to know about how the two are related:
How does acid reflux work?When acid moves backwards up through your esophagus and into your throat and mouth, you will start to feel a burning sensation in your stomach, chest, and throat.
What is reflux-induced erosion?When the acid enters your mouth, it will start to attack your teeth and wear them down, one layer at a time. As a Long Branch dentist, we try to catch the condition early so that we can strengthen and fortify teeth before they become too damaged. Erosion can at first lead to sensitivity and later, to bone loss.
What are the risks to my health?As the enamel on your teeth starts to wear away, your teeth will become sensitive, possibly making it painful to eat and drink. This is because underneath the enamel is dentin and nerves to your tooth. When food and drink touch the nerves, the pain signal can be sent to your brain. If the erosion continues, it can lead to bone loss and some people report getting holes in their teeth. Others live with teeth that are weak and thin, susceptible to breaking.
What are the treatment options?You can treat the actual acid by taking a doctor prescribed medication on a daily basis in addition to using antacids. If the damage has already occurred, we can treat erosion and tooth sensitivity by performing a bonding procedure but this only works in the early stages of the condition. Dental crowns strengthen and protect teeth that have become eroded to the point where they are weak and brittle. Even teeth with holes in them may be able to be saved by using a dental crown. This is a common solution for damaged teeth but if the erosion goes too long without intervention, the tooth may be lost.
What can I do to reduce the damage?After an acid reflux attack, rinse your mouth with baking soda. The baking soda will help to neutralize the acid, and if you have attacks on a regular basis, you may want to switch to a toothpaste that contains it. If you don’t have baking soda, rinse with plain water or antiseptic mouthwash. Don’t brush your teeth for an hour after as it can further erode your enamel. You can also drink a glass of milk or use an antacid to feel better. We also recommend avoiding acidic foods since eating things high in acid like lemons, can only further irritate your teeth.
To learn more about this condition or to schedule a visit with our Long Branch dentist office, give us a call.