When you think about the causes of damaged teeth, you probably think of things like sugary foods or poor dental hygiene. However, one of the most common causes of damaged teeth is acid reflux. However, you can do these 5 things to relieve it without having to resort to expensive drugs or even side effects.
Acid reflux is a condition that is exactly what it sounds like. It is when acid from the digestive system enters the esophagus causing discomfort. When it becomes more severe, it falls into a broader condition called GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease).
Some symptoms include:
· heartburn (chest pain after eating)
· acid reflux (where stomach acid rises back into your mouth causing an unpleasant, sour taste)
· throat pain
· bad breath
· bloating and belching
· tooth erosion or acid wear
· pain when swallowing
If any of these symptoms sound familiar, you are not alone. Up to 60 percent of the population at some point during the year experience the symptoms of reflux disease, such as heartburn and acid regurgitation.
One of the most common methods of dealing with bothersome acid reflux is the use of antacids. These can include drugs known as proton pump inhibitors.
But while acid reflux sounds simple, the actual cause is a bit more complicated than just too much acid. When we understand the cause of acid reflux, then the use of antacids may not be helping and could make the condition worse.
Symptoms and side effects of acid reflux
The long-term consequences of GERD symptoms can often be witnessed in the mouth. Many people take antacids such as proton pump inhibitors, but their acid reflux is not cured.
· Long-term acid reflux has many side effects:
· Low pH in the oral cavity due to overflow of acid from the digestive system leading to erosion and tooth wear
· Tooth wear due to acid reflux can be identified as loss of tooth height. Other presentations include wear of the tooth surfaces on the inside of the teeth or the roof of the mouth.
· Patients often experience bad breath that seems to originate from the digestive system.
What is the root cause of reflux
All of these conditions have a common underlying process. The acid balance in the mouth is controlled by the microbes in the mouth. The mouth is in direct communication with our intestinal microbiota.
When we lose the balance of the digestive microbiome, we become more prone to infection with pathogens like H. pylori. Digestive imbalances are relayed back to the mouth, where enamel erosion can occur.
The role of digestive and intestinal imbalance
Ironically, while acid reflux is often believed to be caused by high stomach acid, it can often be due to low stomach acid, which also results in similar symptoms and sensations like heartburn. The mechanism is that the H.pylori bacteria have the ability to deactivate our release of stomach acid.
The problem with suppressed stomach acids is that the low pH is used as a defense against certain bacteria. Bacterial overgrowth (SIBO for example) can be due to a lack of stomach acid in the first place.
When there is an overgrowth of the wrong species in the digestive system, improper digestion can occur. This can cause gas build-up and intra-abdominal pressure. We know that intra-abdominal pressure is related to acid reflux or GERD.
So acid reflux is probably a bacterial imbalance, which can be due to a lack of stomach acid. This is why antacids don't address the cause of acid reflux, and in fact, it can make acid reflux worse.
H.pylori, intestinal health and tooth erosion
Tooth enamel is managed by the oral microbiome and internal mineral balance. It is the hardest surface of the body and is in constant exchange of ions in the mouth.
The pH of the mouth is governed by bacteria and saliva. When there is an H. pylori infection in the digestive system, the long-term imbalance can also colonize the oral microbiome. Recent studies have shown that the mouth is a common place to find H. Pylori.
In addition to causing problems for the stomach and gastrointestinal tract, H. Pylori causes dental disease. H. pylori is present in the oral microbiome during gum disease. Bleeding gums or gum disease can be a sign of H. pylori infection in the mouth.