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Acid reflux and your dental health

If you’ve been diagnosed with gastroesophageal acid reflux disease, or GERD, your dental health might be at risk.

GERD causes stomach acids to back up into the esophagus and sometimes into the mouth. Individuals who have the disease are at risk for serious damage to the esophagus, including developing esophageal cancer. But they may not realize they are also at greater risk for tooth erosion and periodontal problems.

Patients who have been diagnosed with GERD should follow their physician’s instructions to control their reflux. Treatment strategies can include taking prescription medications; eating smaller meals and avoiding trigger foods like tomato, citrus foods, raw onions, spicy foods, chocolate, alcohol and coffee; and other coping techniques.

Dentists are often the first health care professionals who notice a potential acid reflux problem in a patient. Your dentist may notice tooth erosion or other oral signs. Other symptoms of GERD can include sinus infections, heartburn, difficult swallowing, cough, hoarseness and bad breath.

Talk to your dentist and physician if you notice signs and symptoms so that you can control the acid reflux and protect your dental health.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

12/19/2005

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