Q: I have noticed that my teeth are getting smaller. My dentist said I have enamel erosion. Can this be related to the heartburn I am experiencing?
A: Absolutely! Heartburn is known as many things. Acid reflux, or GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), occurs when the stomach contents flow back up through the esophagus. The stomach’s digestive juices contain acid, and people with this condition often can taste food or acidic fluid in the mouth. This stomach acid can damage your esophagus, leading to health complications like asthma, voice disorders, and Barrett’s Esophagus, a pre-cancerous condition. It can also dissolve enamel and promote tooth decay. The acid-producing bacteria present in the mouth break down the enamel, and the acidic environment caused by GERD decreases the saliva’s ability to neutralize the acid and remineralize the enamel surface. If you happen to be a person who suffers from bruxism (teeth grinding), wear on the chewing surfaces of your teeth is accelerated by the acidic environment.
There are many factors that contribute to GERD. Obesity, pregnancy, smoking, asthma medications, painkillers, antidepressants and antihistamines are a few.
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may be suffering from GERD:
- A dry, chronic cough
- Wheezing, asthma, and/or recurrent pneumonia
- Sore throat, hoarseness
- Difficult or painful swallowing
- Pain in the chest or upper abdomen
- Dental erosion and bad breath
If these symptoms sound like something you have been experiencing, the good news is that it is treatable! Your physician as well as your dentist can help you manage this disease and its consequences. Contact our office in Clinton Township today and talk to Dr. Mindy Salzberg-Siegel to find out how to protect your teeth!