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Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease's Damaging Effects on Teeth

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gastroesophageal-reflux-disease-causes-dental-erosion Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Thinkstock

Dental erosion stems from more than acidic intake and environmental causes, but has also been strongly linked to acid reflux. Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is the leading cause in dental erosion.

If there is a malfunction with the esophagus — a tube that links the mouth to the stomach — and the lower esophageal sphincter, or LES, that works as a ring of muscle fibers closing off re-entrance relaxes, stomach acids that are supposed to be blocked from entering the esophagus travels back up to the mouth.

However, the acid landing in the mouth does more damage than one would think. The toxic stomach acids that makes its way back up to the mouth ends up wearing away the enamel on the teeth, which is designed to initially protect the exterior surfaces from damage, stains and cavities. Once the enamel is continuously damaged and consequently dissolved by the likes of GERD, tooth erosion and decay can occur.

GERD is not always plainly evident from the unmistakable pain of heartburn and belching. Many could be walking around with its imperceptible, yet abusive nature beating on one’s body and teeth. Silent GERD can usually be determined by a dentist, or it can be seen as a warning sign if you are left with a sour taste in your mouth without explanation.

Symptoms of GERD include heartburn, a burning sensation under the breastbone in the chest, nausea after eating and coughing or wheezing. Other symptoms are difficulty swallowing, a sore throat, hiccups, hoarseness and a change in voice.

If your dentist agrees that the loss of enamel on your teeth is not due to the grinding of your teeth, then go see a doctor to determine whether it is related to gastroesophageal reflux.

There are many treatments, however, to resolving GERD and its disastrous effects on one’s dental health. Changing one’s diet, avoiding drugs such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), and instead substituting those for acetaminophen (Tylenol) is a better alternative to relieving pain.

In addition, over-the-counter antacids help to quickly lessen pain after meals and before bedtime.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Though it is a cause of erosion, GERD is not "the" leading cause of dental erosion. Extrinsic dental erosion is most commonly caused by acidic food and drinks. The most notable offenders are carbonated beverages, many sports drinks and citric fruits and fruit drinks.

March 14, 2012 - 4:32am
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