Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a chronic disease that is characterized by frequent heartburn, but it doesn't just affect your digestive system. This disease can also lead to a variety of oral health problems, like tooth sensitivity. Here are four things GERD sufferers need to know about tooth sensitivity.
Why does GERD cause tooth sensitivity?
The heartburn associated with GERD occurs when stomach acid flows up your esophagus instead of remaining in your stomach where it belongs. This acid doesn't always stop in the esophagus, though; it can also flow into your mouth. This is a big problem for your teeth because stomach acid is very acidic.
Stomach acid has a pH level of between 1.5 and 3.5. To put that number into perspective, a pH level of 7 is considered neutral, while a pH level of 5.5 is able to dissolve the enamel that protects your teeth. This means that your stomach acid is more than capable of destroying your enamel.
Once the enamel is removed, the sensitive layers of tissue beneath the enamel will be exposed. You'll then start to notice the signs of sensitive teeth.
What are the signs of tooth sensitivity?
Tooth sensitivity manifests as a sharp, shooting pain within the affected teeth. This pain can be triggered by a variety of factors, including temperature changes inside your mouth. You may notice pain when you consume hot or cold beverages, or even when you go outdoors in cold weather. Pressure on your teeth can also be painful, so you may have trouble brushing or flossing without pain. If you notice these signs, don't ignore them or try to self-medicate with sensitive toothpaste.
How can your dentist help?
Enamel that has dissolved can't grow back, but fortunately, your dentist can replace it with artificial substances. Your dentist may place crowns, also called caps, on top of your damaged teeth to replace the ruined enamel. Bonding, a type of tooth-colored resin, can also be painted onto the surface of the teeth to replace the enamel.
How can you prevent enamel damage?
If you have GERD and don't yet have sensitive teeth, there's still time to make changes to protect your enamel. Make sure to avoid eating any foods that aggravate your condition, like spicy foods or citrus fruits. If you feel acid back up into your esophagus or mouth, rinse your mouth immediately and chew a sugar-free antacid to neutralize the acid.
If you have GERD and have sensitive teeth, make sure to see your dentist right away.Share