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08
Dec

GERD Effects the Health of Your Teeth

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What is GERD?

GERD is a disorder that many people suffer from in which the contents of a person’s stomach leak backwards from the stomach into the esophagus and sometimes even into the mouth. The pH of the gastric reflux is extremely acidic and causes erosion of the esophagus and teeth. This sometimes becomes so severe that we have to literally rebuild the teeth.   Nearly 25% of all patients with GERD have no symptoms (silent GERD), so your dentist may be the only one who will see the effects and be able to refer to a physician for proper diagnosis.

 

What Food Causes GERD?

GERD was first reported over 200 years ago, and it is still a constant battle for patients of all ages and dental professionals to this day. So many foods and drinks today are extremely acidic, and patients with GERD or acid reflux need to stay away from foods like the ones below as often as they can.

 

Fatty Foods

Foods high in fat delay the natural process of your stomach emptying its contents, which is a big factor in acid reflux. Foods such as fried foods like French fries or onion rings, fatty meats, potato chips, ice cream, gravy or any creamy salad dressings. Also avoid cooking your food in animal fat, such as bacon or ham fat.

Chocolate

Chocolate contains methylxanthine which is an ingredient that relaxes your stomach muscles yet is a cardiac stimulant. This combination often leads to acid reflux.

Citrus Fruits and Vegetables

Everyone should eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables. However, patients with GERD have to avoid certain types, especially of the citrus kind, like lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes. Many of them also get acid reflux when eating salsa or foods containing tomatoes.

 

What Does GERD Do To Your Body?

Acid reflux a very uncomfortable thing to experience, and over time, it can cause some very serious dental and health issues. In addition to loss of sleep and breathing problems, the list of discomfort also contains a major dental concern: enamel wear.

Constantly having acid reflux in their mouth causes the enamel on your teeth to erode, leaving your teeth much, much more susceptible to cavities, decay and infection. Your teeth also turn yellow, become extremely sensitive to hot and cold drinks, and become chipped, cracked or pitted. Other complications include:

  • Sore throat
  • Coughing
  • Regurgitation
  • Laryngitis
  • Pneumonia
  • Erosion of the esophagus
  • Inflammation of the esophagus
  • Barrett’s esophagus (which can lead to cancer of the esophagus)

Knowledge is Power

So how can this information “save your life”? As stated above, some GERD patients – up to 20%! – develop something called Barrett’s Esophagus, which can lead to esophageal cancer.   In fact, there has been a 350% increase in esophageal cancer since 1970! Esophageal cancer generally has a poor prognosis, which means early diagnosis and treatment could definitely save your life. So if you suffer from acid reflux, don’t think it is something you have to live with. Visit your doctor today to not only help lessen your discomfort, but to also help prevent your teeth, mouth and esophagus from serious damage.

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