Can Acid Reflux Mess Up Your Teeth? Why and How Acid Destroys Your Teeth

Acid reflux is a common problem that affects millions of people around the world. It’s usually caused by improper eating and drinking habits, but it can also be caused by other factors, like obesity or pregnancy. Any form of acid is bad for your teeth, and stomach acid (also known as gastric acid) is no different.

When one experiences acid reflux, stomach acid flows back up to the mouth, causing it to swirl around the teeth and erode the tooth enamel. Any contact of the acid with the tooth can wear away the enamel and lead to a host of dental problems. lead to a wide range of dental problems including tooth decay and gingivitis.

Individuals who suffer from acid reflux should not brush their teeth after an episode as it will worsen the condition and cause potentially irreversible damages.

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux is a situation when stomach acid flows back through the oesophagus to the mouth. This happens when a ring of muscle called the esophageal sphincter (LES) doesn’t close fully or opens too frequently, giving the gastric juices the opportunity to flow up into the oesophagus. This backwash causes the stomach acid to irritate the inner linings of the oesophagus and erode the gums and teeth in the mouth.

Some of the common factors that can increase the risk of GERD include:

  • Hiatal hernia, a condition where the upper part of the stomach bulges above the diaphragm and into the chest area.
  • Being overweight
  • Consumption of large amount of certain food such as citrus fruits, spicy food, and fried food
  • Poor eating habits such as frequent suppers and eating unhealthy food
  • Pregnancy
  • Smoking
  • Taking of specific medication such as ibuprofen, blood pressure medication, and muscle relaxers.

Nearly everyone would experience acid reflux at one point in their life. Individuals who suffer from acid reflux will experience symptoms such as:

  • Heartburn
  • Chest pain
  • Bloated tummy
  • Sore throat
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Nausea
  • Bad breath

For most people, acid reflux is a mild condition that does not disrupt life. However, frequent episodes suggest that one may have developed gastroesophageal reflux disease (also known as GERD), the chronic form of acid reflux. It is estimated that 20% of the U.S. population suffers from GRED. If left untreated, GERD can cause debilitating health problems including a persistent cough, wheezing, tooth decay, and gingivitis.

Individuals who suspect that they suffer from acid reflux or GERD should consult their local doctor for an immediate physical examination before the condition worsens.

How Acid Reflux Destroys Your Teeth?

Cross-section of the tooth

At a pH level of 1.5 to 3, stomach acid is the most acidic liquid in the human body. Built to break down and dissolve food, stomach acid can cause serious damage to the teeth.

This is done via a process known as enamel erosion. When erosion occurs, the layer of enamel that protects the dentin and the dental pulp is being dissolved and removed from the tooth. This causes the tooth to appear thin, sharp and yellowish.

Constant erosion of the enamel will also lead to dentin hypersensitivity, a condition where one experiences a sharp pain or discomfort when the teeth is exposed to a thermal or chemical stimuli.

Those who suffer from enamel erosion should consult their local doctor and take the appropriate treatment plans such as the use of high-fluoride toothpaste, re-mineralization treatment, and possibly the installation of veneers or crowns to restore the eroded tooth.