Oral Fact Sheet: Acid Reflux from Howard J. Barsky, D.M.D. in Carversville, PA

Tooth sensitivity is extremely common in America and usually occurs because of exposure of the root portion of the teeth. Ideally, enamel (the hardest material in your body) covers the portion of your teeth above the gum tissue. However, when gum recession occurs, the root portion gets exposed and sensitivity develops – the root has many dentinal tubules (small channels) with tiny nerve endings that connect to the nerve pulp.

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Avoiding acidic foods and taking ant-acids are only short-term measures. Increasing stomach acid seems to help some people. If you believe you may be at risk for acid reflux or GERD, speak with your dentist or physician.

When you lay on your right side, stomach acid covers the lower esophageal sphincter. This increases the risk of acid leaking through it and causing reflux. One study in GERD patients showed that having a late evening meal had no effects on acid reflux, compared to having a meal before 7 p.m. ( 50 ). Additionally, an analysis of controlled studies concluded that elevating the head of the bed is an effective strategy to reduce acid reflux symptoms and heartburn at night ( 10 ).

Fact Sheet: Acid Reflux

Talk to your dentist and physician if you notice signs and symptoms so that you can control the acid reflux and protect your dental health. GERD causes stomach acids to back up into the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth. Individuals who have the disease are at risk for serious damage

In patients who have GERD, the esophageal muscles are unable to keep stomach acids from flowing upwards, causing corrosion of the esophageal lining and the uncomfortable burning sensation associated with heartburn. If you suffer from acid reflux, see your dentist regularly so they can make sure your teeth stay healthy, recommend ways to prevent tooth enamel erosion and suggest ways to get relief if you are also suffering from dry mouth. One’s diet often has an effect on GERD. Excessive ingestion of wine, spicy foods, coffee that may have added sugar, and other food sources can all contribute.

I recently became painfully aware of the ramifications of acid reflux and GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) on the oral cavity. Acid reflux is when stomach acid gets pushed up into the esophagus, which is the tube that carries food and drink from the mouth to the stomach. It is important to note that not every person suffering from GERD symptoms will present with enamel loss, but I encourage dental professionals to join me in evaluating this condition differently (see sidebar for additional information).

A number of patients say that sucking on breath mints, candies, or lozenges soothes burning in the mouth. Sucking on lozenges can also stimulate saliva production, which helps to fight dry mouth. GERD, or acid reflux disease, is very common among Americans today. Once the outer coating of the teeth (known as enamel) is gone, it’s gone for good, he noted. “The only thing that you can do is wait for it to become bad enough that we have to put a crown, veneer or filling on the tooth,” Leader added.

In fact, mint in all forms (gum, tea, whatever) should be avoided. Although mint does provide some relief to heartburn sufferers initially, it eventually stimulates acid production and makes the symptoms worse in the long run.

I now wish I could have seen more clearly the onset of GERD symptoms among my family members. Sadly, it was a very confusing time for both patient and health-care provider. In the beginning of this journey, symptoms of stress, anxiety, and weight loss were also communicated. Yes, as the condition worsened, more obvious symptoms occurred to help with the diagnosis.

Geurtsen W. Rapid general dental erosion by gas-chlorinated swimming pool water. Review of the literature and case report. 19.

Stomach acid, which is strong enough to break down food, can cause similar harm to enamel if it causes higher than normal acidity in the mouth. GERD usually occurs when a ring of muscles at the top of the stomach weaken, allowing stomach acid to enter the esophagus. This resulting acid reflux can make life unpleasant and pose potential health dangers-over time it can damage the lining of the esophagus and cause ulcers and pre-cancerous cells. It can also erode tooth enamel if acid enters the mouth and raises its level of acidity.

However, coffee increased the duration of reflux episodes between meals ( 31 ). However, one study that gave participants caffeine in water was unable to detect any effects of caffeine on reflux, even though coffee itself worsened the symptoms. In one study, researchers gave participants with GERD prebiotic fiber supplements that promoted the growth of gas-producing bacteria.

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