Loss of tooth structure or enamel is called tooth erosion. It is a serious dental condition as tooth erosion is permanent; however, it is also avoidable. We know to brush after meals, but did you know that food containing vinegar, such as salad dressing and pickles, are corrosive to your enamel? Highly acidic foods such as citrus fruits and even hot and cold beverages can also contribute to this issue. However, a leading cause of tooth destruction over time is created by acid reflux.
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), also known as acid reflux disease, causes chronic heartburn. Stomach contents, including stomach acid, leak into the esophagus and work their way back up into the mouth, usually causing burning pain in the digestive tract.
Hydrogen content or pH is the standard used to measure acidity in a substance. It is measured on a scale of 0 to 14. A lower pH means that the substance is highly acidic. Substances with a pH of 5.5 or lower will cause teeth to erode. Stomach acid has a pH of 2.2 making it a serious threat to overall dental health. Even for those who do not experience the discomfort of acid reflux, there may be stomach acid present in their mouths. Uncontrolled acid reflux and teeth erosion are the unfortunate result.
What to Do to Prevent Tooth Erosion from Acid Reflux
If you’ve been diagnosed with acid reflux, be sure to follow these steps to ensure your teeth will not be damaged:
- Avoid foods that aggravate the condition such as tomatoes, citrus, spicy and fried foods, fat, dairy, chocolate and coffee and black teas.
- Carry sugar-free antacids and let them dissolve in your mouth; do not chew them.
- If you chew gum, switch to sugar-free varieties that include Xylitol which is known to reduce mouth acid.
- Do not brush your teeth for an hour after an acid reflux episode; rinse your mouth with tepid water instead.
Saliva is the mouth’s leading defense against stomach acid. Your dentist will have more advice for keeping your mouth healthy, including how to control acid reflux and teeth damage. If you do not have dental insurance, an EDP Dental Plan would be a great option to keep you and your family’s dental costs affordable and your mouths healthy. Call us today at (631) 272-5230.