Acid reflux can affect more than just your digestion. The stomach acid that comes up during an episode of reflux can affect your teeth and erode the enamel that covers them, leaving them vulnerable to sensitivity, decay, and cavities. If you or someone you know is struggling with acid reflux and want to know how to protect teeth from acid reflux symptoms, the team at Click2Pharmacy have put together this helpful guide to follow.
Understanding Acid Reflux
Acid reflux disease, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease (GORD), is a condition where stomach acid flows back into your oesophagus, the tube connecting your mouth and stomach. This can cause discomfort, known as heartburn, and other symptoms.
At the bottom of your oesophagus, there’s a valve called the lower oesophagal sphincter (LES). Usually, LES closes as soon as food passes through it. But if it doesn’t close all the way or opens too often, stomach acid can move up into your oesophagus. This leads to symptoms of acid reflux.
Several factors can contribute to and cause acid reflux. These include eating large meals, lying down immediately after eating, being overweight, and consuming certain foods and drinks, like citrus, tomato, chocolate, mint, garlic, onions, or spicy or fatty foods. Drinking alcohol, smoking, and certain medications can also trigger reflux.
Symptoms of Acid Reflux
The most common symptom of acid reflux is heartburn – a burning discomfort felt in the chest, just behind the breastbone. This usually happens after eating and might worsen at night or when lying down.
However, acid reflux can cause other symptoms too:
- A sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up your throat or mouth.
- General stomach discomfort, including bloating, upper abdominal pain/discomfort, and nausea after eating.
- Difficulty swallowing (dysphagia).
- A feeling of a lump in your throat.
- Chronic cough or sore throat.
Acid Reflux and Dental Health
Acid reflux can significantly affect your dental health, specifically on your tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the hard, protective outer layer of your teeth. It’s one of the most complex substances in your body but is not immune to damage. When stomach acid enters your mouth, it can erode this enamel. This process is known as dental erosion.
Dental erosion occurs because stomach acid is highly acidic. Regular exposure to this acid can dissolve the minerals in your enamel, leading to thinning and weakening of the teeth. This erosion process can be gradual and might not be immediately noticeable, but it can lead to significant damage over time. Enamel erosion is serious because once enamel is lost, it can’t be regenerated.
Saliva also plays a protective role in your oral health. It helps neutralise acid in the mouth and remineralise tooth enamel. However, if acid reflux is frequent, saliva may not be enough to counteract its effects.
Dental Symptoms of Tooth Damage from Acid Reflux
The symptoms of tooth damage from acid reflux can be painful and have long-lasting effects on oral health. When acid reflux affects your teeth, you may experience signs of dental erosion and tooth wear, including:
- Sensitivity to particular foods and drinks
- A burning sensation in the back of your mouth
- Bad breath
- Tooth discolouration
- Enamel erosion
Recognising these symptoms and seeking dental care promptly if you are concerned is essential. Eroded enamel can lead to cavities, severe tooth decay, and even tooth loss if left untreated.
At Click2Pharmacy, we emphasise the importance of identifying these signs early, as timely intervention can prevent further damage and maintain your oral health.
How to Protect Teeth from Acid Reflux
Acid reflux can wreak havoc on your teeth, but there are several steps you can take to protect your teeth from the damaging effects of acid reflux.
Review Your Diet
Maintaining a balanced diet and being cautious of particular foods can significantly prevent acid reflux.
Review your diet to identify and reduce consumption of acidic beverages, citrus fruits, and caffeine, as these are common triggers of gastroesophageal reflux. Avoiding acidic foods and drinks can prevent further damage to the protective enamel on your teeth.
You should also be mindful of sugar intake to minimise potential harm to your teeth because the protective enamel of your teeth can be compromised by the presence of sugar, especially when exposed to acid reflux. If you use chewing gum to alleviate the taste or symptoms of acid reflux, opt for sugar-free variants and avoid sugary food and drink.
Practice Good Oral Hygiene
Maintaining good oral hygiene can help prevent the erosion of your protective enamel caused by acid reflux. This includes brushing your teeth at least twice a day (using a soft toothbrush if needed), using mouthwash, and regular flossing.
If you smoke, you should consider cutting down or quitting to reduce the risk of gum disease and other dental issues it can cause, as this will only make oral health issues from acid reflux worse.
After an episode of acid reflux, it’s important to rinse your mouth with water to reduce the acid left in your mouth.
Manage Acid Reflux Symptoms
Acid reflux medication can help manage your symptoms and reduce the episodes you experience. They work by reducing the production of stomach acid, providing relief from the burning sensation, and keeping your acid reflux under control. Popular acid reflux medications include:
Use High Fluoride Toothpaste
Toothpaste alone cannot fully protect teeth from acid reflux, but a high fluoride toothpaste can help strengthen tooth enamel and safeguard teeth from acid reflux damage. Popular choices are the Colgate Duraphat 2800 or Colgate Duraphat 5000. These prescription-only fluoride toothpaste will help provide extra protection for the enamel, combating the effects of gastroesophageal reflux disease. They also benefit those experiencing a burning sensation or sensitivity from acid reflux.
Protect your teeth from acid reflux with Click2Pharmacy
Acid reflux can seriously affect dental health, leading to enamel erosion, tooth sensitivity, decay, and discolouration. Click2Pharmacy offers a range of targeted solutions, including fluoride toothpaste and acid reflux treatment, specifically designed to counteract these effects.
At Click2Pharmacy, our UK-based online pharmacy features a dedicated acid reflux clinic, providing personalised advice and support for managing acid reflux and its dental implications. We’re committed to offering the best care and products with the confidentiality and convenience you expect from a trusted pharmacy.
Take the first step towards protecting your dental health from acid reflux. Contact us today and complete our assessment to receive tailored advice and solutions. We’re here to help you maintain a healthy smile despite the challenges of acid reflux.
How to Protect Teeth from Acid Reflux FAQs
How long does acid reflux last for?
Acid reflux usually lasts about two hours but can vary. Chronic cases, like GORD, may persist for several weeks. Treatment can heal minor acid reflux in less than a month and moderate cases in 6 to 12 weeks.
Why does acid reflux cause bad breath?
Bad breath from acid reflux occurs when stomach contents flow back into the oesophagus, eroding teeth and creating cavities that trap food and bacteria.
Is mouthwash good for acid reflux?
While mouthwash can freshen breath, it is not practical in addressing the underlying cause of acid reflux. Mouthwash cannot prevent the harmful effects of stomach acid on teeth and gums. To protect your teeth from acid reflux, it’s essential to focus on managing the condition itself and practising good oral hygiene.
Can medications used to treat acid reflux have an impact on dental health?
Some medications used to treat acid reflux can affect dental health. They can reduce saliva production, leading to dry mouth and an increased risk of tooth decay. Additionally, certain medications may cause erosion of tooth enamel. It’s important to discuss this with your doctor, pharmacist or dentist to find the best treatment plan to manage your symptoms and look after your oral health.
How long does it take for acid reflux to damage your teeth?
The timeframe for acid reflux to harm your teeth can vary from person to person. It may take months or even years for noticeable tooth damage to occur.