smiling man with woman in background, illustrating relief from acid reflux
Posted on 04/12/2013 · Posted in Health Information from Affiliated Dentists, Information

What is Acid Reflux?

Acid reflux happens when your body regurgitates stomach acid into your esophagus, causing heartburn.

The first cases of acid reflux were reported more than 200 years ago, and back then it was widely diagnosed from industrial hazards.  However today even everyday foods and drinks can cause acid reflux.

Hydrogen (pH) is how acidity is measured in any given substance on a scale of 0 to 14.  The lower pH a substance has, the more acidic it is, meaning something with a very high pH is not very acidic at all and less likely to cause acid reflux.  Dental enamel begins dissolving at a pH of 5.5 and stomach acid has a pH of 2.0, meaning it is extremely acidic and can cause significant chemical erosion.

Most people know that acid reflux causes damage to your esophagus, lungs and throat, but  people also need to  be aware of how much damage it does to your teeth, too.   In fact, it is so bad for your teeth, that there is a condition for it called acid reflux – induced erosion, which causes severe, permanent loss of your tooth structure.

Is Acid Reflux Eroding My Teeth?

Look for the early signs of acid reflux – induced erosion such as:

  • Sensitive teeth when consuming certain foods and drinks, especially ones that are sweet, cold or hot
  • Discoloration or transparency of your teeth
  • Teeth that are starting to look rounded, or like they have been filed down with sandpaper
  • Pitting or “cupping” of teeth

Many people do not see the signs of acid reflux – induced erosion until it is in advanced stages, so it is a good idea to have your dentist do an exam if you have signs of acid reflux.  Schedule an appointment today, online 24-7.

Click here to read more on dental erosion caused by acid reflux.

Common Acid Reflux Symptoms:

  • A burning pain or discomfort moving up from your stomach to your chest or throat
  • A bitter taste in the back of your throat
  • Bloating
  • Bloody or black stools or
  • Bloody vomiting
  • Belching/burping
  • Dysphagia –  which creates the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
  • Nausea

How Can I Prevent Acid Reflux?

The best thing to do is avoid highly acidic beverages, such as coffee or carbonated beverages.

This includes avoiding alcohol, which is a common trigger of acid reflux.  Also, quit smoking or chewing tobacco. Try to keep something in your stomach at all times by eating smaller meals throughout the day, and only use sugar-free antacids and sugarless gums and candy.  If you have an acid reflux episode, make sure you rinse your mouth out with water.

Some over the counter medications such as Tums, Rolaids, Mylanta and Alka-Seltzer can help neutralize your stomach acid.  Be sure to read the labels carefully, as many can have side effects, especially if they are overused.  If you find that you try over the counter medications and they aren’t treating your acid reflux, or that you are taking them more often than is recommended, contact your medical doctor to discuss other medication options for you.