Reflux Disease and Dental Problems

The Mouth Says It’s Stomach Acid

In the United States, approximately 20 percent of the population has GERD (also called reflux disease), according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Anyone can have GERD, affecting a wide spectrum of the population, from infants to the elderly. The condition is characterized by stomach contents traveling up the esophagus as a result of weaken esophageal sphincter muscles. Being highly acidic, the contents can cause a burning sensation or pain or tightening in the middle of the chest as they travel up the esophagus. Hence, the common complaint of ‘heartburn’.

Those with reflux disease manifest a variety of symptoms other than heartburn. Some have nausea and vomiting, difficulty in swallowing, sinus and ear problems, and respiratory problems. Another region impacted by reflux is the oral cavity and its structures.

The condition can often leave a sour taste in the mouth, especially after getting up in the morning. In many cases that GERD goes undiagnosed, teeth can become very sensitive as enamel thins away with frequent acid contact. Teeth can appear chalky and and there is presence of decay. The tongue and the gums feel raw and painful as if scraped.

The throat is constantly sore and excessive salivation can be noted. Acid fumes can also invade the sinuses and irritate the soft tissues therein. In spite of keeping up with proper oral hygiene, dentists aware of these signs and symptoms should find them as indicators of GERD. Patients are generally not aware of acid contributing to these symptoms.

While there is no cure for the condition, proper management can control the vicious effects of stomach acid. The dentist can advise you to seek medical specialist help. Prescription for acid neutralizers or the more effective acid inhibitors to decrease stomach acid production can be sought. The specialist can also prescribe lifestyle changes affecting food and drink choices, sleeping positions, among others.

Your dentist, on the other hand, will tell you to have more frequent dental check-ups and cleanings. He will advise you to use baking soda toothpaste with fluoride and to rinse with a fluoride mouthwash or use a fluoride gel daily. Also, he’ll tell you not to brush immediately when you feel acidity in your mouth as this will brush off the still weakened enamel layer; it is better to rinse your mouth with water first.

Management and Control for Reflux in Seattle

Know more about the effects of acid reflux disease on teeth and other oral structures. Your doctor and your downtown Seattle dentist can co-manage this condition for a better quality of life for you.