Did you know your digestive health can affect your teeth?
Frequent stomach upset can cause a gradual wearing away of the protective enamel on your teeth, a process known as tooth erosion. This can affect the appearance of your teeth and open the door for harmful bacteria that cause cavities.
Your stomach produces natural acids that help your body digest food. Sometimes, these acids travel up the throat and into the mouth, especially after a large meal. Ordinarily, our saliva rebalances the acid levels in our mouth and everything’s fine.
But for those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux or GERD, gastric acids reach the mouth throughout the day. This process is especially damaging when you’re asleep, since you are swallowing less often and your mouth is producing less saliva.
Another concern is the dry mouth caused by many acid reflux medicines. Saliva not only helps neutralize the acids caused by acid reflux, but also helps to wash away food particles and reduce bacteria that attack tooth enamel. This is why lower saliva production may increase your risk for cavities.
Acid reflux can wear away the enamel on the inside surfaces of your teeth, as well as the chewing surfaces. Your dentist may notice this during an exam.
Unfortunately, tooth erosion is permanent. If your enamel has started to wear away, you may:
Once erosion occurs, you may need fillings, crowns, a root canal or even tooth removal. Veneers may be an option to restore the look of your smile.