Monday, March 19, 2018

Can Your Acid Reflux Be Damaging Your Teeth?

If you are someone who struggles with acid reflux, especially severe acid reflux, then you are more than aware of the immobilizing effects it can have on your life. From the sleepless nights, to the sick days needed to be taken because you can’t get out of bed, to the inability to freely choose from a menu at a restaurant, to the missed cherished events because an episode left you alone at home wishing you were literally anywhere else. I can say these things because I know your pain. For years I’ve dealt with acid reflux and the inconvenience and pain it can cause. The one thing I didn’t realize it was hurting though, on top of everything else, was my oral health. I’ve always heard that stomach acid can be corrosive on tooth enamel, but given the fact that I wish for death half the time I have bouts of reflux, my last thought is on my teeth. But, nevertheless my enamel was being damaged due to my issues with acid reflux. But, I found hope. Thankfully through an amazing doctor who helped me find the right diet and supplementation, I have been able to better manage my acid reflux. And I want to help you do the same, not for just a better quality of life (which is the most important), but also for your oral health. 

For starters let me give a quick background into how damaging reflux can be on oral health. Essentially when stomach bile rises through your esophagus it literally burns as it goes. Which not only damages the lining, but it corrodes the enamel of the teeth. And the enamel is essential as it is what protects the tooth from decaying. And once enamel is gone, it’s gone forever. Now most of the damage is done at night, because the acid sits in your mouth due to the fact that you are swallowing less and your mouth is producing less saliva. (It’s kind of gross when you think about it.)

So what can you do to protect your oral health? Well the first thing is seek out medical care. GERDs or acid reflux tends to be a symptom of a bigger problem, so don’t let your doctor give you a generic answer. You are your biggest advocate, so you need to make sure that your doctor keeps looking for the right answer. And in the meantime provides you with a prescription or supplementation that will manage the symptoms. 

One of the biggest things you can do yourself to help manage acid reflux is to change your diet. While this may seem hard, in the end, you will thank yourself for having the discipline to make the changes. I promise you, speaking from personal experience, it will change your life. Here are a few things I recommend cutting and never looking back on (maybe only on special occasions. First and foremost pasteurized dairy and gluten. Cliche, but both are highly inflammatory foods that can cause your body to react negatively. Other things to cut include spicy foods, coffee and other caffeinated beverages, artificial sweeteners, food high in sodium, chocolate (sorry), processed sugar, fried goods, alcohol (really really sorry), tomatoes, and carbonated beverages. 

But you not only want to avoid certain foods, but you also want to add in beneficial foods that will help manage your symptoms. These include mostly anti inflammatory foods like kefir, yogurt, bone broth, fermented vegetables, kombucha, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, cucumbers, wild caught tuna and salmon, raw cow’s milk (yes I said raw), healthy fats, honey, can green leafy veggies. 

It’s not a fix that will happen overnight, but if you stay dedicated and work with your doctor, you can see an improvement in your symptoms that will not only help your oral health, but your quality of life overall. Take it from someone who’s been there and hopes to see you on this side of good health. 

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