Acid Reflux, also known as Gerd (Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease), is a condition in which the acid contents of the stomach back up into the esophagus, making its way into your mouth. The common symptoms include heartburn, nausea, a bitter taste in the mouth, and a chronic cough. Left untreated, acid reflux can cause serious damage to the esophagus and can lead to a precancerous condition.
What many people don't realize is that these acids can have a serious effect on your teeth. Enamel erosion, increased incidence of tooth decay, and recurrent decay around existing fillings and crowns are the 3 most common effects. It is up to your dentist to determine the source of the acid that has caused the damage. There are 4 common sources of tooth destroying acids:
1. the acid produced by the bacteria that live in the white sticky plaque that builds up on your teeth
2. the acids contained in citrus fruits and carbonated drinks
3. the acids that chronically bathe the teeth due to self-induced vomitting known as bulimia
4. the acids that chronically bathe the teeth due to acid reflux
The acids of the stomach are very powerful and can quickly and easily strip away the outer layer of enamel on the teeth. This is often seen on the inner surfaces of the teeth next to the tongue. This kind of erosion has a very particular look that your dentist can easily identify. When it is determined that the decay is due to stomach acids, the dental materials that will be used will be specifically chosen to be more acid resistant. The acid reflux or the bulemic condition will obviously have to be addressed as well.
The treatment for acid reflux include diet modifications, lifestyle changes, antacid medications and PPI (proton pump inhibitors) medications. If you suffer from any of the above symptoms, please consult your doctor and/or dentist.
Dr. Brian Kaplansky (Mississauga Dentist)