At the Shoal Creek Prosthodontic Group, we see teeth that are damaged for all sorts of reasons. While most people understand the role of plaque in tooth decay, they may not know about how much gastroesophageal reflux disease, also known as GERD or acid reflux, contributes to enamel erosion.
Acid reflux is what happens when the sphincter that divides the stomach from the esophagus fails to prevent hydrochloric acid from backing up into the throat and mouth. The acid burns tissues it comes into contact with, including teeth, gums, and salivary glands. As enamel wears down, tooth nerves become exposed, resulting in tooth sensitivity. Damage to salivary glands also contributes to dry mouth, which increases the risk of infection.
Preventing acid reflux usually requires changes in posture and diet. Patients should avoid slouching as well as alcohol, caffeine, smoking, and acidic foods and drinks such as garlic, tomatoes, and citrus juices. It is also wise to not eat before bed. As for existing damage, there are remineralization therapies such as fluoride treatments to help strengthen enamel. Patients can also stimulate new saliva production by chewing sugar-free gum.
Frederick Shaw, DDS, operates the Shoal Creek Prosthodontic Group at 1500 W 38th Street, Suite 34, Austin, Texas, 78731. To schedule an appointment, call 512-451-7491 or visit FrederickShawDDS.com and fill out a contact form.