Acid reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, is an incredibly common problem associated with the digestion process. So why in the world is your dentist in Hagerstown writing about something that’s typically seen as a stomach problem? The truth is, acid reflux can wear down tooth enamel and increase the risk for decay.
What Is GERD?
Acid reflux is that uncomfortable burning sensation that some people experience after eating. Usually, it’s described as chest pain or heartburn. But what’s really happening is stomach acid is moving up into the esophagus, creating that burning sensation. When this happens periodically, it’s known as gastroesophageal reflux (GER). If it occurs more than twice a week over the course of several weeks it may be a sign of GERD, or gastroesophageal reflux disease.
How Does Acid Reflux Affect Teeth
We’ve already noted that acid reflux can wear down tooth enamel and increase the risk of tooth decay, but there are other ways acid reflux can affect your teeth. As your dentist in Hagerstown knows, acid is one of the worst things for teeth and can lead to a whole host of dental problems including bad breath and tooth sensitivity. In fact, the sensitivity can be so bad that it can keep people from brushing their teeth. However, it’s crucial that those with acid reflux brush twice a day. Using a soft toothbrush and toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help reduce discomfort.
Tips to Protect Your Teeth
If you have GERD or even occasional acid reflux, there are things you can do to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of the acid. The best place to start is to talk to a gastroenterologist to help get your symptoms under control. They may recommend shifts in your diet or habits such as:
- Avoiding acidic foods and drinks
- Limiting spicy foods
- Eating smaller meals
- Quitting smoking
Then, your dentist in Hagerstown can recommend additional ways to keep your teeth healthy and protected. Some of these recommendations may include:
- Swishing your mouth with water after eating
- Drinking plenty of water throughout the day
- Waiting an hour to brush your teeth after you eat or drink something acidic
- Brush and floss your teeth every day
Now, even though it’s important for everyone to see the dentist at least once every six months, it’s even more important for those who suffer from acid reflux. Oftentimes, patients are unaware of the damage happening to their teeth until it’s too late. Your dentist will be able to catch any problems early and recommend the best treatment option for you.
If it’s been longer than six months since you’ve had a dental checkup or cleaning, we welcome you to call us to schedule an appointment today.