Contemporary Dentistry

Acid Reflux, Stomach Acid, and Your Teeth

A good dentist should communicate with all of your health care providers to identify what kinds of medications you are on or other conditions that may have a negative impact your dental health. Seemingly unrelated conditions can be harmful to your teeth, such as low testosterone. If you experience heartburn multiple times per week then you likely have acid reflux disease. Most people don’t realize that acid reflux can actually be harmful to your teeth, but the condition can actually be detrimental to the enamel of your teeth, and it’s all due to stomach acid.

All About Acid

We are all familiar with tooth decay, and rightly associate it with bacteria (specifically Streptococcus mutans) that live in our teeth and gums. However, most people don’t realize that the actual decay is a result of lactic acid secreted by the bacteria as it processes glucose and sugar leftover in the mouth. Acids, which register low on the pH scale, are extremely damaging to your teeth. Dental enamel erodes at a pH of 5.5, meaning that even slightly acidic foods and drinks like sparkling water, which has a pH of around 3 or 4, can cause damage. Stomach acid, on the other hand, fluctuates between a pH of 1.5 and 3.5 coming in around the same pH range as lactic acid (2.5 pH). If lactic acid is so damaging to teeth, clearly stomach acid can be even worse.

Stomach acid directly contacts teeth in people with bulimia nervosa, causing widespread destruction of teeth that requires extensive reconstruction with porcelain veneers, dental crowns, root canal therapy, and sometimes even dental implants. Acid reflux causes a lower level of contact with teeth, but it can still be damaging.

Managing Acid Reflux, Protecting Your Teeth

Luckily, acid reflux can easily be managed through medication, but even if you have a flare up, which happens now and then, your teeth are not automatically doomed. If your acid reflux begins to act up, the best thing that you can do is to rinse your mouth out with water. It is important that you wait to brush your teeth until an hour after your acid reflux episode because the bristles from your toothbrush can actually cause further damage to the already weakened enamel. Unfortunately, enamel cannot be grown back, so the best course of action is to get dental crowns if the damage is severe. Modern dental restorative materials are highly resistant to acid attack.

At Contemporary Dentistry we strive to work with your other healthcare providers to give you the best treatments that cater to your individual needs. While acid reflux is a seemingly minor condition, it can cause major damage to your teeth. If you are concerned about your enamel, and are looking for a dentist that champions a holistic approach to dental health, pay us a visit in Rochester at Contemporary Dentistry. Give us a call at (585) 244-3337 today to schedule an appointment.