Your Teeth and GERD

Author: Kimberly N. Powell, DDS, MS, FAGD

Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) occurs when stomach acid repeatedly flows back into the tube connecting your mouth and stomach (esophagus).  GERD symptoms typically include heartburn and regurgitation, but can include chronic cough, throat-clearing, and hoarseness.  Some complications include scarring and narrowing of the esophagus which can lead to difficulty in swallowing.  Another complication of GERD is the acceleration of tooth decay and wear.  When your hygienist or dentist notice areas of dental erosion, possible causes for your condition are expressed.  Your oral healthcare providers will ask about your diet, frequency of consumption of acidic beverages, history of acid reflux and/or GERD.  Seeking an evaluation by your primary care provider or gastroenterologist may be advised.  You may treat some symptoms with over-the-counter medications and with good outcomes, i.e., you feel better.  But, the long term effects of the continued assault to your stomach, esophagus, and oral cavity can be very damaging but potentially avoidable if medical care is sought.  One way or another our body parts are in communication with each other, giving signals that function may be impaired. It is truly about whole body care.

Sources: AGD Impact, September 2023, vol. 51, no. 9