3 Ways That Gastroesophageal Reflex Disease Affects Your Oral Health

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is a digestive disease that causes problems like frequent heartburn, but it can also cause a lot of oral health problems. Here are three ways that this chronic condition affects your mouth.

Tooth erosion

The enamel that covers your teeth is strong, but if your highly-acidic stomach acid backs up into your mouth, your enamel doesn't stand a chance. The acids eat away at your enamel and lead to tooth erosion. This is a common problem among people with GERD, according to studies. Nearly one-quarter of GERD patients have some degree of tooth erosion.

Tooth erosion is a concern because as the enamel is eroded, the sensitive tissues beneath the enamel are exposed. This leads to problems like toothaches and sensitive teeth. Your dentist can't make your tooth enamel grow back, but they can replace your damaged tooth enamel with cosmetic restorations like veneers or crowns.

Mouth ulcers

Your enamel isn't the only tissue inside your mouth that is damaged by stomach acid; your oral soft tissues can be damaged, too. The acid damages the tissues and leads to the formation of open sores known as ulcers. These sores may form on the insides of your cheeks or even on the lining of your esophagus.

These sores are painful and can make it hard for you to eat or talk, but discomfort isn't the only problem. The acid may cause precancerous changes in the affected tissues, so your ulcers could later become oral cancer. To help you cope with your mouth ulcers, your dentist can give you a medicated rinse to ease the pain. You may also be given an antiseptic rinse to keep the sores from getting infected.

Burning mouth syndrome

Burning mouth syndrome is just what it sounds like: the sensation that your oral tissues are on fire. Any of your oral soft tissues can be affected, including your gums and your tongue. This painful condition has been linked to GERD; the stomach acid inside your mouth causes damage to the tissues it comes into contact with, resulting in a burning sensation.

This condition is a concern because it makes it hard for you to eat and talk, and it may also make it hard for you to sleep or focus. Your dentist may prescribe a medication to help calm the sensation, and you may be told to avoid foods that could make the burning worse, like spicy foods.

GERD doesn't just cause heartburn; it causes a lot of oral health problems. If you have GERD, make sure that the best dentist in your area knows about your condition.