If you, like 7 percent of Americans, suffer from symptoms such as heartburn as often as once a day, then you may be suffering from a condition referred to as GERD (Gastroesophogeal Reflux Disease). One of the main symptoms of GERD is acid reflux, which is when stomach acid, along with some of the contents of your stomach, flows back up into your esophagus. This causes heartburn, hiccups, throat and mouth irritation, and, in up to half of all sufferers, tooth erosion.

Why Acid Reflux Causes Tooth Erosion

Your saliva, which fights bacteria, helps to rebuild teeth, and neutralizes the acid in the foods you eat, should generally be at a pH level of around 6.7 in order to provide optimal protection for your teeth and gums. However, if this level drops to a pH of 5.5 or less, due to poor diet, dehydration, or in this case acid reflux, your teeth will begin to deteriorate. The pH level of stomach acid is around 2.

If acid reflux is a problem you suffer from on a day to day basis, and your diet contains lots of acidic foods, then your teeth will likely erode and you will begin to experience symptoms like: 

  • Tooth sensitivity 
  • Darkening teeth
  • Pain around gums
  • Sharp-edged teeth due to erosion

If you suffer from GERD, ideally, you need to prevent these symptoms from occurring rather than waiting until the damage is done. 

Prevention Before Treatment

If your teeth have already begun to decay as a result of GERD, you need to talk to a dentist about your treatment options; however, you should now also intervene to protect your teeth from any further damage. 

Visit your doctor who will perform a series of tests to check the seriousness of your condition and prescribe you with some medication to bring the symptoms under control. After that, it is up to you to modify your dietary intake. You should make an effort to cut out or reduce foods such as: 

  • Citrus Fruits: Lemons, oranges
  • Spicy Foods: Chili peppers, pepper, curries
  • Acidic Foods: Tomato, apples
  • Acidic Beverages: Coffee, Alcohol, fizzy drinks

All of these foods and beverages have a low pH. You need to try to keep up your pH level to protect your teeth against decay. This means drinking more water, chewing xylitol gum, which helps to reduce acid in the mouth, and eating more alkalizing foods (foods that raise pH level), such as vegetables, milk, eggs and honey. 

The Most Common Treatments for Acid Eroded Teeth

All dentists will first advise that you bring your GERD symptoms under control before seeking dental treatment. Otherwise, you may be wasting your money and time, as your newly repaired teeth may continue to erode. 

However, if you have brought your symptoms under control, your dentist can offer you several treatment options, such as composite bonding, which involves covering the damage with a resin filling, crowns, which will require your teeth to be shortened slightly before being covered with the crown, and veneers for more serious cases. 

If you think you may be suffering from GERD, see your doctor first, and later book an appointment with your dentist to discuss your options.