Acid reflux is when acid produced by the stomach moves up into the esophagus, causing heartburn. Not only is this condition very uncomfortable, but it can also silently damage the teeth. The stomach acids wear away the enamel on the teeth, leaving your smile vulnerable to cavities and decay.
Suppose you or your child have been diagnosed with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or are suffering from symptoms of acid reflux. In that case, it’s imperative to protect the teeth as much as possible. Here’s what you can do to manage reflux symptoms and how to prevent damage from acid erosion, especially during orthodontic treatment.
How Braces Can Help Permanently Eradicate Acid Reflux
Your teeth have a primary function – to break down food into smaller pieces so the body can better absorb what you eat. If your teeth do not align correctly, they cannot properly break down large pieces of food, which leads to digestive tract and absorption issues. Braces can help permanently eradicate acid reflux, heartburn, and bloating by helping your teeth work appropriately to break down the foods you eat.
Managing GERD Symptoms
There are a few practical ways to help control GERD symptoms and reduce the likelihood of stomach acids traveling back into the mouth. Many patients find antacids and medications helpful. You can also lessen acid reflux symptoms by quitting certain lifestyle habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, avoiding caffeine, and cutting back on acidic foods and beverages, and with antacids or medication. Many patients also have great success in lessening reflux episodes by finishing meals at least three hours before bed and avoiding lying down immediately after eating.
Boost Saliva to Neutralize Acid
Saliva is your body’s natural way of neutralizing acid and restoring minerals to your enamel. You can help to boost your natural saliva production by drinking more water, using a saliva-boosting product, or chewing xylitol-sweetened gum. Mouth acidity can also be decreased by chewing an antacid tablet or rinsing your mouth after eating. After having a reflux episode, mix warm water with a little baking soda to neutralize the acids in your mouth and brush your teeth after 30 minutes.
Use Oral Hygiene Products With Fluoride
You can do a lot to further protect your teeth from acid by using oral hygiene products with fluoride. Not only is fluoride proven to strengthen tooth enamel, but using a fluoride mouth rinse once or twice a day can also help to strengthen your teeth and remineralize soft spots in the enamel. Stronger fluoride solutions can also be applied directly to the teeth if necessary, and your dentist can prescribe prescription-strength fluoride mouth rinse under challenging situations.
Other Tips To Balance Oral pH
Besides the previously mentioned ways of managing acid reflux with braces, these additional tips can help keep your smile healthy and strong during treatment and long after braces come off.
- Modify and limit the consumption of acidic foods and beverages.
- Drink liquids through a straw to avoid leaving acid in the mouth.
- Swish or rinse your mouth with water after eating.
- Do not brush for at least 20 minutes after drinking or eating acidic foods to allow the calcium in your saliva to remineralize tooth surfaces.
- Drink milk and eat dairy products and high calcium foods such as okra, broccoli, and bok choy to replenish calcium.
- Use toothpaste with baking soda (like Arm and Hammer).
- Use a remineralizing agent like MI Paste (available by prescription).
- Request fluoride treatments at each hygiene visit.
Because patients are often unaware of the damage that reflux-induced erosion has caused until it’s too late, it’s essential to catch this in its earliest stages. Seeing your dentist every six months in addition to routine orthodontic checkups is a critical piece in keeping your teeth as healthy as possible throughout orthodontic treatment. For more tips on managing acid reflux symptoms during orthodontic treatment, contact Thomas Orthodontics today.