What is Acid Reflux?
Acid Reflux, also known as gastroesophageal reflux disease, is a somewhat common condition where the acid from the stomach is able to leak up into your esophagus. For some people, there are symptoms such as heart burn or regurgitation. For others, it can be symptom free and go completely unnoticed.
How Does Acid Reflux Affect Your Dental Health
Patients with acid reflux are at greater risk of tooth erosion and periodontal problems. The enamel of the teeth begins dissolving at a pH of 5.5, and the pH of stomach acid is 2 or less. Day after day this exposure to the acid begins to thin and dissolve away the protective coating of the teeth, leaving them noticeably weakened. When the enamel wears away, the sensitive inner dentin layer of the tooth is exposed, and this can lead to additional, serious complications with the health of your teeth and mouth. Often your dentist or hygienists will be the first to notice these changes. It is important to note that just because a person does not feel the burning symptoms does not mean they do not have acid reflux.
What Are The Signs Or Symptoms Of Teeth With Erosion Due To Acid Reflux?
- Pain or irritation in your mouth
- Sensitivity to certain foods and drinks, especially hot, cold, or sweet
- Sharp tooth edges
- Thinning or shortened teeth Darkening teeth
What Are the Symptoms of Acid Reflux Disease?
Common symptoms of acid reflux are:
- Heartburn – a burning pain or discomfort that may move from your stomach to your abdomen or chest, or even up into your throat
- Regurgitation – a sour or bitter-tasting acid backing up into your throat or mouth
- Bloody or black stools or bloody vomiting
- Dysphagia – a narrowing of your esophagus, which creates the sensation of food being stuck in your throat
- Hiccups that don’t let up
- Weight loss for no known reason
- Wheezing, dry cough, hoarseness, or chronic sore throat
How Is Acid Reflux Disease Diagnosed?
It’s time to see your doctor if you have acid reflux symptoms two or more times a week, or if your dentist at Dental Health and Wellness Boston see changes in your tooth enamel indicative of acid reflux . Your physician will be contacted and asked to consider ordering tests to confirm a diagnosis and check for other problems. You may need one or more tests such as these:
- Barium swallow (esophagram) can check for ulcers or a narrowing of the esophagus. You first swallow a solution to help structures show up on an X-ray.
- Esophageal manometry can check the function of the esophagus and lower esophageal sphincter.
- pH monitoring can check for acid in your esophagus. The doctor inserts a device into your esophagus and leaves it in place for one to two days to measure the amount of acid in your esophagus.
- Endoscopy can check for problems in your esophagus or stomach. This test involves inserting a long, flexible, lighted tube down your throat. First, the doctor will spray the back of your throat with anesthetic and give you a sedative to make you more comfortable.
- A biopsy may be taken during endoscopy to check samples of tissue under a microscope for infection or abnormalities.
How Dental Health and Wellness, your Boston Dentist Can Help
Dr. Smith and her team at Dental Health and Wellness Boston are passionate about raising awareness among patients and physicians of the impact acid reflux have upon peoples’ teeth. So much unnecessary dental treatment and destruction of tooth structure could be avoided with early diagnosis and intervention. In addition to possible significant oral damage, long-term untreated acid reflux can significantly damage your general health.
If you’re affected by acid reflux, even a little bit, please let us know at your next visit. Request a free consultation today!