Oral Health News

November 2017

Oral Signs of GER or GERD

Gastroesophageal reflux (GER) occurs when stomach contents re-enter the esophagus. This happens when the muscle between the throat and stomach relaxes,creating an opening for stomach contents to flow back into the throat. Occasional reflux is common, but reflux that occurs more than twice a week for several weeks may be a sign of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). During reflux, stomach acid often returns to the mouth where it bathes the teeth in acid (especially the back teeth, or molars). The pH level of stomach acid is around 2.0 on average. Teeth begin to dissolve at a pH level of 5.5. Teeth that are bathed in stomach acid will begin to dissolve. For this reason, your dentist may be the first to notice signs of GERD.

Oral signs and symptoms of GERD:

  • Teeth look smooth/glassy
  • Teeth are sensitive to hot/cold foods
  • Teeth seem thinner or shorter than before
  • Fillings appear raised (like in photo above)
  • Bad breath
  • Sore throat

Protecting your teeth from GERD:

  • Avoid foods that cause reflux (citrus, spicy, tomato-based, chocolate, carbonated drinks)
  • Use topical fluoride to rebuild teeth (toothpaste, mouth rinse, varnish, gels)
  • Swish with water or a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 8 oz. water after meals to neutralize pH
  • Do not brush for 20-30 minutes after reflux
  • Use a soft or extra-soft toothbrush to minimize wear

More resources

Reflux & GERD

What is Acid Reflux?

Gastroesophageal reflux - discharge