GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease. If you’ve been diagnosed with this disorder, it means that the contents of your stomach end up moving back up your esophagus because the lower esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t close like it should.
In addition to causing uncomfortable heartburn—those stomach contents include acidic juices that should remain in your digestive tract—GERD can get pretty gross if you actually taste the stomach fluid when it reaches the mouth. Plus, over time, this condition could lead to other problems, such as esophageal cancer or ulcers. Yikes! For this article, though, we’ll focus on the oral health issues that may be the result of gastroesophageal reflux disease.
Dental erosion is one of the oral health problems that can be caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease. Basically, the acidic stomach contents make their way into the mouth and cause the enamel of the teeth to break down and dissolve.
The scary part is that the enamel that ends up eroding can’t be brought back naturally. In other words, this damage is irreversible. And because enamel, which is the hard outer layer of your teeth, provides protection, losing it could make your chompers increasingly vulnerable to things like cavities and sensitivity.
What’s worse: GERD can even do damage when you’re asleep! You won’t realize it while you’re in dreamland, but those gastric acids could invade your mouth, basically covering your molars and eating away at them. The fact that you don’t produce as much saliva and you don’t swallow as much while you sleep only makes the situation even more destructive.
If you suffer from gastroesophageal reflux disease, there are some things that you can do to protect your teeth, as well as reduce your symptoms overall:
Some people don’t even know that they’re experiencing gastroesophageal reflux disease until they head to the dentist to have their mouth examined. A dental pro can identify signs of enamel erosion and talk to you about GERD, including what steps you can take to prevent further damage. Plus, your dentist might be able to provide treatments that may help protect your teeth, such as tooth bonding, veneers, or a crown.
Pro tip:with an affordable dental insurance plan, you never have to worry about missing an important appointment with your dentist!
In addition to working with your dentist to keep your whole mouth clean and healthy, you can also talk to your doctor about what you could do to treat GERD and stop symptoms before they can cause harm.
Sure, gastroesophageal reflux disease can be damaging, but there’s hope. Changing your lifestyle and eating habits, talking to your physician about treatment options, and working with your dentist to protect your smile can help you regain control.