If you live with chronic acid reflux or heartburn, you know how challenging it can be. New research shows that it not only affects your esophagus, but it can also cause damage to your teeth due to acid in the mouth. A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that after following patients for six months, almost half of those with acid reflux had more tooth wear and erosion than those that did not have the condition.
Dr. Daranee Tantbirojn, the lead author of the study said, “It’s normal to have tooth erosion due to chewing, and about half of those with the condition had about the same or slightly more erosion than healthy people. However, almost half of the GERD participants had tooth wear and erosion several times higher than the healthy participants.” (1)
Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body and protects you from feeling the extremes of hot and cold when you are eating and drinking. When this outer shell begins to erode, you are more likely to experience tooth decay and cavities may become more common. You may also notice that you are reacting more to hot or cold foods and you may also see that your teeth are becoming rough or uneven. So, how can you protect your teeth if you have acid reflux?
Tip #1: Have regular dental checkups.
Good dental care is the best way to keep your mouth healthy and that means staying current on checkups with your dentist. Professional cleanings twice a year are important and oral exams by your dentist will help you spot any problem areas and tackle them before they get out of hand.
Tip #2: Cut down on acidic food and drinks.
Sodas, citrus fruit, and juices are some of the most common acidic foods that can break down the enamel on your teeth. Cut back your intake of these foods and drinks and make the switch to low-acid products, or finish your meal with a glass of milk or a piece of cheese, which can help cancel out some of the acids that you’ve just ingested. If you do drink or eat something high in acidity, rinse your mouth out with water right away.
Tip #3: Chew sugar-free gum.
Chewing sugar-free gum that contains xylitol can help reduce the amount of acid in your mouth and can also help you produce more saliva, which combats dry mouth and strengthens your teeth with important minerals.
Tip #4: Use toothpaste and mouthwash with fluoride.
Fluoride can help protect your teeth, so be sure the products you’re using have fluoride in them. When brushing your teeth, use a soft toothbrush and try not to brush too hard, as this can be damaging to the enamel over time.
If you’ve lost some of your enamel, talk to your dentist about what approaches you can take to help restore it or prevent further damage.
- “Acid Reflux From Chronic Heartburn May Damage Teeth.” HealthDay. March 8, 2012. Accessed online March 5, 2016. http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/03/08/acid-reflux-from-chronic-heartburn-may-damage-teeth