Dental Damage Caused by Acid Erosion
Everyone’s teeth are protected by enamel, a thin layer of hard tissue, but this same layer that offers protection can actually be worn away or softened due to medical conditions or acidic foods and drinks. Loss of enamel makes the teeth more apt to decay, chip or shorten over time.
One of the greatest threats to healthy enamel is acid reflux. Normally when eating, food and drink travels down to your stomach where acids aid in digestion. A muscle connecting your esophagus and stomach opens and closes to allow food into your stomach and keep stomach acid out of your esophagus. Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when this muscle weakens and allows the stomach contents to flow back up into your esophagus resulting in symptoms including heartburn or a lingering acidic or bitter taste (WebMD). The highly acidic stomach liquid that reaches your mouth repeatedly can erode enamel and reveal the sensitive inner dentin layer of your tooth, causing sensitivity to food, darkening teeth, pain, thinning or shortened teeth and sharp tooth edges (Soft Dental).
Aside from stomach acid, acids found in everyday foods can also soften enamel. Knowing the pH value of the foods you eat and the beverages you drink will help you get a clearer picture of how acidic your diet is. With this knowledge, you can make better diet decisions for not only your overall health but also he health of your teeth to protect your tooth enamel from the effects of acid erosion (Pronamel). For high acidic drinks like soda (that includes diet varieties) or apple juice or foods including lemons and certain salad dressings, it’s important to avoid consuming these in excess to protect your teeth. That certainly doesn’t mean you have to cut acidic fruits out of your diet, but be aware of how often they are incorporated into each meal. For the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s complete list of approximate pH values for hundreds of acidic foods, you can download the PDF by clicking here.
Treatment Options for Acid Reflux
Lifestyle changes like avoiding the foods and beverages that trigger symptoms are some of the most effective ways to treat acid reflux disease. Here are other steps you can take (WebMD):
- Eat smaller meals more frequently throughout the day.
- Quit smoking
- Put blocks under the head of your bed to raise it at least 4 to 6 inches.
- Don’t eat at least two to three hours before lying down.
- Try sleeping in a chair for daytime naps.
- Don’t wear tight clothes or tight belts.
- If you’re overweight or obese, take steps to lose weight with exercise and diet changes.
- Also, ask your doctor whether any medication could be triggering your heartburn or other symptoms of acid reflux disease.
- Options to Restore Dental Health
Dr. Jill Smith and the Dental Health and Wellness Boston team are passionate about raising awareness among patients and physicians of the impact acid erosion has on peoples’ teeth. Destruction of tooth structure can be avoided with early diagnosis and intervention for medical issues like acid reflux, and we want our patients to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
When a patient comes to our office with dental damage caused by acid erosion, we offer a variety of treatment options to restore the look and strength of teeth depending on the severity of the damage. If you are suffering from acid erosion, contact us today to discuss your options.