How Does Acid Reflux Affect Your Oral Health?
Acid reflux is a more prevalent problem than you may realize. In America alone, over sixty million individuals have acid reflux symptoms at least once a month, and around fifteen million have it every day. This means that if you’re dealing with acid reflux, you’re not alone. But of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do anything about it. If left untreated, acid reflux can lead to a whole host of problems, especially to your oral health.
What Is Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux is the passage of acidic stomach fluids into the esophagus. The lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which is directly above the stomach, is the muscle that keeps stomach acids from coming back up into the esophagus. However, in some cases, this muscle doesn’t work, leading to acid reflux, also referred to by doctors as gastro-esophageal reflux disease or GERD for short.
What Are The Symptoms Of Acid Reflux?
There are many acid reflux symptoms, but the most common are heartburn, belching, a sour taste in your mouth, and chest pain. These symptoms are most likely to occur after eating, which is why acid reflux is often referred to as heartburn.
What Causes Acid Reflux?
Acid reflux, like most other diseases, is caused by a number of factors. When you eat, a muscular valve opens at the bottom of the esophagus, allowing the food to travel into your stomach. In some cases, this valve opens too far, allowing stomach acid to move upward into the esophagus. Some of the causes of acid reflux include obesity, smoking, pregnancy, taking certain medications, and being overweight.
How Does Acid Reflux Affect My Oral Health?
Unfortunately, acid reflux can have an adverse effect on your oral health, especially if left untreated. One of the most common negative oral effects of acid reflux is tooth erosion. When acid reflux sits in the mouth, it can cause the enamel on your teeth to wear away.
The acid will also change the pH level of your saliva, which damages not just the enamel on your teeth but also your gums and other soft tissue. Chronic acid reflux can also lead to an increased risk of oral cancer, which is definitely something you don’t want to have to worry about.
How Can I Treat Acid Reflux?
There are many ways you can treat acid reflux, from behavioral changes to medical treatments. You can begin by avoiding known triggers such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods. If you’re overweight, you should try to get healthy by losing weight, as this is one of the main causes of acid reflux. Many patients find that eating closer to bedtime can reduce acid reflux symptoms, so try to eat at least three hours before you go to bed.
If your acid reflux isn’t treated, you can end up with a whole host of problems, including dental problems. But of course, be sure to contact your dentist as soon as you notice any problems with your teeth and gums.
Acid reflux is a serious issue, and it’s important to detect it and treat it as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing acid reflux, talk to your dentist so they can help you get back on track and help you to avoid the negative oral effects of acid reflux. But of course, also work with a doctor and make the changes necessary to ensure acid reflux is a problem you no longer have to deal with or worry about!
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