Protecting Those Pearly Whites
If you or some one you care for has acid reflux disease, you may need to consider extra measures of tooth protection. Cavities, also called tooth decay, can be caused by a combination of factors, including acid reflux. Stomach acid is caustic, and if it makes its way to the mouth as a result of acid reflux, it can damage the teeth. The prevalence of dental erosions in the general population is estimated to be 2 - 18 percent, but has been reported to range between 20 - 55 percent among individuals with GERD.
Acid reflux can cause dental damage by removing the dental enamel from the teeth, and thus makes the teeth more susceptible to erosion. Frequent snacking that can sometimes be used as a comfort for acid reflux can also contribute to the higher rates of dental damage in those with GERD. Poor nutrition in infancy, often associated with acid reflux, may also lead to soft teeth which damage more easily.
If you or your child have frequent reflux, you need to consult with both your dentist and your doctor. Reducing damage to the teeth may involve insight from both professionals. Your dentist may recommend a sealant for the teeth, or more frequent dental hygiene. He or she may also recommend an increase in the amount of fluoride you consume, especially if you (or your child with reflux) only drink bottled or filtered water.
Your doctor may attempt to reduce the amount of acid the teeth are exposed to by prescribing medication to treat the reflux. Anti-reflux drugs may help potential dental damage in two ways: by reducing the amount of reflux and changing the pH of the reflux. Your doctor may also help you to consider ways to reduce the sugary content of the foods that make you feel better.