How Excessive Stomach Acid Affects Dental Health

Posted on: 20 October 2020

General dentistry practices often see patients who suffer from acid reflux disease, which can cause excess stomach acid to rise into the throat and sometimes into the oral cavity. If not well-managed, excessive stomach acid can cause problems with your teeth and gums. Here are some oral manifestations of acid reflux disease that your dentist may discover during your examination and what can be done about them.

Dental Enamel Erosion

When stomach acid makes contact with your teeth, you may develop acid erosion. This condition raises your risk for cavities because once your tooth enamel becomes too thin or develops erosion, cavity-causing bacteria can enter your tooth more readily.

Acid erosion can lead to tooth sensitivity, and it can also cause your teeth to appear darker or more yellow. This is because when your enamel gets too thin, it exposes the dentin, which is typically dark yellow in color. If you develop acid erosion as a result of acid reflux disease, your dentist or hygienist may recommend using a toothpaste especially formulated to help strengthen your enamel while reducing tooth sensitivity. He or she may also recommend that you limit your intake of acidic drinks such as coffee, cola, and citrus juices. 

Gum Inflammation

Irritating stomach acid can also affect your gums. It can lead to gum inflammation, pain, and abnormal bleeding. During your examination, your dentist may ask you if you have acid reflux, especially if your gums appear unhealthy or if they bleed excessively when probed with sharp dental instruments.

If your gums are affected by excessive stomach acid, the dentist may recommend a mild oral rinse to help soothe irritated gum tissue and promote healing. Rinsing your mouth with warm water and salt may also help ease gum irritation, and it may also lower your risk for developing gingivitis and periodontal disease.

When rinsing your mouth with warm water and salt, be careful not to swallow the liquid because saltwater can further exacerbate acid reflux disease. Also, if excess stomach acid makes your gums hurt, try an over-the-counter numbing gel that is used to treat teething pain in babies. While the effects of these numbing gels are not long-lasting, they can offer short-term relief from oral irritation and burning sensations.

If you have acid reflux disease that is affecting your teeth and gums, see both your primary care physician and your dentist. By seeing these healthcare professionals on a regular basis, you are more likely to see an improvement in your acid reflux symptoms and in your oral health.