How does Heartburn damage your teeth

Acid Reflux Is Causing More Teeth Damage Than You Think


Having gastroesophageal reflux disease – GERD – can be a real problem. While it does not always include chest pain, many people experience pain in the throat each time there is an acid reflux. This focuses your attention on the pain and you may not even think about the fact that there could be damage from it elsewhere. Acid reflux may also be damaging your teeth.




About Acid Reflux and GERD

Acid reflux occurs when the valve at the top of your stomach does not close all the way and it permits food and acid to flow up the esophagus and possibly into your mouth. This will often cause a burning sensation in your chest.

Acid reflux and GERD is not the same thing, but there are some similar symptoms. The symptom that indicates it is GERD is having heartburn frequently – such as two or three times a week. This may be attended with acid reflux, and you may also have:


  • Coughing

  • Wheezing

  • Pain in the Chest

  • Difficulty swallowing.


Unknown Acid Reflux

It is very possible for someone to have acid reflux and not know it. It can occur in your sleep, letting acid sit in your mouth for long periods of time. During a regular dental checkup, the dentist will be able to recognize the damage being done to your teeth.


The Dental Problem

The acid that comes into your mouth from your stomach is rather strong. With GERD, it can occur during the day or night, and it is going to erode the enamel on your teeth. The more frequently it occurs, the sooner and greater the damage will be. This is a problem because the enamel on your teeth does not grow back. One study conducted by the University of Alabama revealed that 70 percent of people with acid reflux had considerable tooth decay, and 40 percent of people with GERD also had it.


The acid leaches out the minerals in your teeth and also creates pits in them. This weakens your teeth, making them easier to break, chip, or crack. It can also make your teeth sensitive to hot or cold.


Symptoms of Reflux Caused Tooth Erosion

When you have acid reflux coming into your mouth, there will be some obvious symptoms. They may include:
  • Sensitive teeth

  • A yellow discoloration on your teeth

  • Your fillings have changed.


As the erosion continues, there will be an increased risk for cavities, abscessed teeth, and even tooth loss. This will lead to ongoing dental work requiring new fillings, root canals, dental crowns, and extractions.

Problems with Dry Mouth

Some of the medications that you might take for acid reflux or GERD may tend to dry out your mouth. Some drinks may also cause a dry mouth such as coffee or tea, which are diuretics.


A dry mouth will cause the bacteria in your mouth to multiply and cause more plaque. When these same bacteria come into contact with sugar and carbs, it produces acid, and it is what is responsible for causing cavities and gum disease. It is your saliva that normally washes it and the acid off of your teeth. Not having enough saliva means that the bacteria and acid stay on your teeth longer. Putting sweet candy in your mouth to compensate for dry mouth is only going to supply the bacteria with more sugar. Instead, you can chew gum with xylitol as a sweetener to generate more saliva.


Tips for Controlling Acid Reflux

Getting control of the acid reflux or GERD is necessary to save your teeth. Various over-the-counter medications are available that can help.


Protecting your teeth is important if you want to keep a beautiful smile. This means reducing your intake of acidic drinks and foods, such as soda, fruit juices, sports drinks, coffee and tea, and tomato-based products.


Complications of Untreated Acid Reflux

If your acid reflux is not treated, it can lead to some rather serious problems. It can cause erosion of the esophagus, which can make it sore and hard to swallow. It may also lead to esophageal cancer, which is hard to detect.


Protecting Your Teeth

If the damage to your teeth is not severe, the dentist may be able to apply a sealer to the surface of your teeth. It will be necessary to repair teeth first, which may require filling cavities, using a bonding compound to cover and protect any exposed dentin, and more. A remineralization may also be

recommended to further strengthen existing tooth enamel.



If you have heartburn and need to determine if acid reflux or GERD is causing tooth enamel loss, you can visit Kumar T. Vadivel, DDS, FDS RCS, MS. He is a Board-certified Periodontist who can help you maintain good oral health. You can get a free consultation by clicking on the number on this screen, or you can book an online appointment.



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