Acid reflux can not only cause wicked heartburn but can also contribute to tooth decay. When stomach acid refluxes into the throat and mouth, it can dissolve tooth enamel, leaving the sensitive inner parts of the teeth vulnerable to attack by bacteria. If you suffer from acid reflux, here are a few things you can do to protect your teeth.
1. Eat a Low-Acid Diet
Eating a diet that is low in acid can help to reduce acid reflux symptoms, including tooth decay. Soft drinks like cola contain huge amounts of acid, even if you purchase the sugar-free varieties. Natural fruit juice is also very acidic, so it's not the best substitute for a cola habit. Instead, drink water fruit tea, or unsweetened green tea to protect your teeth.
As well as giving up soft drinks, it is also a good idea to cut down on acid in food. Swap citrus fruits for bananas and melons. Cut out fruit-flavoured candies, which are high in harmful sugars as well as acid, and instead snack on nuts, cheese or unsweetened yoghurt.
2. Wait Before You Brush
If you are worried about your dental health, your instinct might be to brush your teeth as soon as you finish eating. However, brushing right away could make the enamel damage worse. Acid softens tooth enamel, which means it is more vulnerable to abrasion if you brush too hard. Instead of brushing right after meals, wait at least 20 minutes (or 30 minutes if you have eaten something acidic) to protect your teeth.
3. Wear a Mouthguard at Night
Wearing a mouthguard limits the contact between your teeth and acid that refluxes into your mouth. If you suffer from acid reflux at night, ask your dentist to prescribe a mouthguard to protect your teeth while you sleep.
4. Increase Saliva Production
Saliva helps to neutralize acids. Chewing gum is a good way to stimulate saliva production. Choose a sugar-free gum to avoid feeding oral bacteria with sugars.
You should also drink plenty of water to stay hydrated; if you are dehydrated, your saliva production will decrease, increasing the harmful effects of acid reflux on your teeth.
5. See Your Doctor
Doctors can prescribe medications that reduce acid reflux. These include medications that neutralize stomach acid, as well as medicines that reduce the amount of acid the stomach produces. Ask your doctor whether these medicines would be suitable for you.
Speak to a dentist for more information.