If you suffer from acid reflux, you’re not alone! Around one in five people in the UK live with this disease. It can be uncomfortable and sometimes even painful – but did you know it can affect your oral health too?
Alongside managing your acid reflux symptoms, there are a number of things you can do to prevent the condition from damaging your teeth in the long term. Read on to learn everything you need to know:
What is acid reflux?
Acid reflux, otherwise known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, is caused by a dysfunctioning of the lower esophageal sphincter. This small muscle is designed to prevent stomach acid from rising up into the mouth – acid reflux happens when it relaxes at the wrong times.
How does this affect your oral health?
Acid is the enemy of teeth! They are covered in a protective layer of enamel – whilst this is the hardest substance in the entire human body, it’s vulnerable to erosion when your mouth’s pH levels become too acidic.
If stomach acid is regularly making its way into your mouth, your enamel will become significantly weaker which can cause multiple issues like:
- Sensitivity to sugar and particularly cold or hot foods and drinks
- Exposed dentine causing discoloration
- Visible wear to the surface of your teeth, like ridges and pitting
- Teeth may become brittle, causing cracks and chips
But your teeth aren’t the only thing at risk of damage from excess acid in the stomach. It can also cause your gums to become inflamed, putting you at higher risk of gum disease and even bone loss.
How can you protect your teeth and gums against acid erosion?
Managing the symptoms of your reflux is, of course, the primary way to prevent excess levels of acid entering your mouth and attacking your teeth and gums. However, there are a number of other steps you can take to mitigate the damage. You should:
- Wait 30 minutes after an acid attack to brush your teeth. High levels of acid in the mouth cause your enamel to become temporarily weakened, and brushing it in this state can cause permanent damage. It will re-harden after around 30 minutes, after which it should be safe to brush your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth out with water in-between meals to neutralise the levels of harmful bacteria in the mouth.
- Eat whole grain foods like oats, brown rice, and couscous to balance the pH level in your mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum to encourage saliva production and wash away acid and bacteria.
- Always use a 1,350pcm to 1,500pcm fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your protective enamel layer.
How can Ten Dental Help?
Whether or not you experience acid reflux, we always emphasise the importance of preventative dentistry at Ten Dental. The better you maintain your teeth over time, the less likely you are to need invasive, expensive treatment later down the line.
Wherever possible, you should visit us around every six months for a routine dental examination. This means we will spot the early signs of acid damage before they worsen, and recommend the best course of timely treatment.
In addition to your examinations, you should also book a hygienist appointment every six months. Our hygienist will remove plaque and tartar from your teeth and gums to prevent decay and gum disease, and give you expert oral health advice to help you care for your teeth from home.
Book a consultation today
Are you worried about the effects of acid erosion on your teeth and gums? Our dentists and hygienists are experts in helping patients manage this issue and protect their teeth in the long term.
If you want to see the difference it could make for you, book your FREE consultation at our Clapham or Balham clinics today!