Stomach ulcers are sores in the lining of the stomach or small intestine. They occur when the protective mucus that lines the stomach becomes ineffective. The stomach produces a strong acid to help digest food and protect against microbes. To protect the tissues of the body from this acid, it also secretes a thick layer of mucus. If the mucus layer is worn away and stops functioning effectively, the acid can damage the stomach tissue, causing an ulcer.
How Do Stomach Problems Affect My Teeth?
Your stomach produces natural acids that help your body digest food. Sometimes, these acids travel up the throat and into the mouth, especially after a large meal. Ordinarily, our saliva rebalances the acid levels in our mouth and everything’s fine. But for those who suffer from gastroesophageal reflux, also known as acid reflux or GERD, gastric acids reach the mouth throughout the day. This process is especially damaging when you’re asleep, since you are swallowing less often and your mouth is producing less saliva.
Another concern is the dry mouth caused by many acid reflux medicines. Saliva not only helps neutralize the acids caused by acid reflux, but also helps to wash away food particles and reduce bacteria that attack tooth enamel. This is why lower saliva production may increase your risk for cavities.
What Does Reflux-Related Erosion Do to My Teeth?
Acid reflux can wear away the enamel on the inside surfaces of your teeth, as well as the chewing surfaces. Your dentist may notice this during an exam.
Unfortunately, tooth erosion is permanent. If your enamel has started to wear away, you may:
- Feel pain or sensitivity when consuming hot, cold or sweet drinks
- Notice a yellowish discoloration of the teeth
- Find that your fillings have changed
- Face greater risks for cavities over time
- Develop an abscess, in extreme cases
- Experience tooth loss, also in extreme cases