Upper Digestive Problems And Your Oral Health

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If you suffer from upper digestive problems, then you may experience heartburn, a sore throat, tightness in your throat, acid reflux, chest pain, and a bad taste in your mouth. While your physician may prescribe medication or recommend that you take an over-the-counter antacid, your symptoms may still persist.

Upper digestive problems can also cause problems with your oral health. If you have upper digestive problems or take new medications to treat them, call the dentist office so that your dental chart can be updated before your next appointment. Here some ways digestive problems can affect your oral health. 

High Risk For Cavities 

Digestive problems such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, cause stomach acid to flow into your upper digestive tract. In addition to hoarseness, cough, and heartburn, GERD can lead to weakened tooth enamel as a result of acid erosion.

If your enamel has been weakened by acid erosion, it will be unable to prevent bacteria from getting inside your teeth, and subsequently, your risk for cavities may rise. While stomach acid doesn't typically make contact with your teeth and gums, severe GERD can cause small amounts of stomach acid to get into your oral cavity.

Losing weight, sleeping with the head of your bed elevated, avoiding heavy meals and alcohol before bedtime, and taking acid-reducing medication can help prevent GERD. If your dentist sees signs of weakened enamel or acid erosion during your next checkup, he or she may recommend a special toothpaste to help strengthen your tooth enamel. 

Gum Problems

GERD can also cause painful gums, gingival inflammation, and bleeding. If you have GERD or other types of upper digestive problems, see your dentist regularly. He or she will closely monitor your oral health for subtle changes. The dentist may also prescribe a special mouthwash to help soothe irritated tissues and restore moisture to your mouth. GERD can dehydrate your mouth, leading to oral dryness.

When your mouth becomes too dry, bacteria can accumulate, raising your risk for dental decay and gum disease. Chewing sugarless gum or dissolving sugar-free hard candies in your mouth can help promote salivary flow. Drinking plenty of water can also help keep your gums healthy by rinsing away infection-causing microorganisms. 

If you have been diagnosed with an upper digestive problem such as GERD, regularly visit your family physician and dentist. When both of these professionals are managing your health and dental conditions, you are less likely to experience complications such as swallowing problems, loss of appetite, dental decay, and gum infections.