You might not think too much about the relationship between your stomach and your teeth, but such a relationship definitely exists. Your teeth chew your food, which is then swallowed and sent into your stomach. It's not always a one-way street, and sometimes compounds from your stomach can make the journey in the other direction.
Are you affected by gastroesophageal reflux disease (which most people just call acid reflux)? This is a bothersome condition when stomach acid (which is largely made up of hydrochloric acid) travels up your throat and into your mouth. The progress of the acid can sometimes be rather uncomfortable, but the corrosive acids are largely neutralised by your saliva and the fact that they're quickly swallowed again.
An Ongoing Occurrence
Mild, infrequent acid reflux isn't going to have much effect on your teeth. But when the condition is an ongoing occurrence, your teeth can become compromised. It's likely that this is happening while you sleep when saliva production decreases. This decrease is your body's way of avoiding the need to swallow during sleep and also prevents the loss of excess fluid from your body since you can easily drool when your facial muscles are relaxed (even though this still happens to a lot of people, to some extent). This decreased saliva means decreased protection against the effects of acid reflux. But how does this acid reflux affect your teeth?
It's quite simple, and it's due to the fact that stomach acid is corrosive. When enough of this acid is distributed onto your teeth on a regular basis, it can begin to erode your teeth's protective enamel, leading to decay and deterioration. It will first attack the back of a tooth (as this is the direction the corrosive acid is travelling in when it exits your throat), but if untreated, will begin to affect the entire tooth. What can be done about the problem?
Protecting Your Teeth
Your dentist will easily be able to spot acid erosion during a checkup, and they might then ask you if you're affected by acid reflux. Your dentist might apply a sealant to affected teeth, which is a clear or tooth-coloured resin that acts as a synthetic, protective barrier. When this erosion has resulted in a cavity, this will be filled. More extensive erosion will require a more intensive restoration, such as a dental crown to fully encase the affected tooth.
You should also speak to your doctor about whether your acid reflux is being effectively managed since controlling the problem will substantially reduce the risk it can pose to your dental health.
To get help with teeth damaged by acide reflux, contact a local dentist.