Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disorder that refers to when stomach acid travels into the esophagus, throat, and sometimes the mouth, causing symptoms such as heartburn. In addition to heartburn, GERD can also cause chest pain, constant throat clearing, coughing, and a bad taste in the mouth. GERD can also have a negative impact on your oral cavity including the following problems with your teeth and gums.
While lack of oral hygiene is the most common cause of periodontal disease, other causes such as gastroesophageal reflux disease may also play an important role in its development. Symptoms of periodontal disease may include gum inflammation and bleeding, gum recession, loose teeth, pain when chewing, and tooth sensitivity.
When the gum tissue is exposed to irritating stomach acid, tissue damage and inflammation can occur, leading to periodontal disease. In addition, people with GERD may also have problems with their salivary glands which can cause dry mouth as a result of poor salivary flow.
When the mouth becomes too dry, bacteria can proliferate because it is not being washed away by adequate amounts of saliva. This can cause gingivitis, infections, and periodontal disease. If you have GERD, see a dentist regularly for cleanings and examinations and work with your primary care physician on managing your reflux disease.
Tooth Enamel Acid Erosion
Another oral consequence of gastroesophageal reflux disease is tooth enamel acid erosion as a result of the damaging effects of stomach acid. When your tooth enamel is strong and healthy, cavity-causing bacteria are less likely to penetrate the structure of the tooth and invade the center of the tooth called the pulp. Conversely, when tooth enamel is worn away or becomes thin as a result of acid erosion, your pulp is vulnerable to bacterial invasion and subsequent dental decay and infections.
Signs and symptoms of acid erosion include tooth sensitivity and dental discoloration. Because the tooth enamel becomes thin as a result of erosion, the underlying dentin, which is dark yellow, becomes visible, which makes your teeth look stained or discolored. Other symptoms of acid erosion include changes in the shape of your teeth and your teeth may look transparent.
If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease, see a dentist regularly for comprehensive examinations and professional teeth cleanings. When acid erosion is recognized early on and effectively treated, the risk for further enamel damage, cavities, and dental infections may decline.