Acid reflux disease
Normally when you swallow, the food and drink travels from your mouth, down your esophagus and into your stomach, where the stomach acids begin digestion. A muscle connecting your esophagus and stomach opens and closes to allow food into your stomach and keep stomach acid out of your esophagus.
Acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), occurs when this muscle weakens and allows the stomach contents to flow back up into your esophagus. You may feel a burning pain in your chest, neck, and throat (heartburn), a sensation of food coming back into your mouth, and a lingering acidic or bitter taste.
Your teeth are protected by a thin layer of hard tissue called enamel. Usually your saliva can help maintain the natural pH balance (levels of acid or alkaline) in your mouth, wash away food particles, and rebuild the minerals in your teeth. But sometimes, highly acidic foods, drinks, and drugs can overwhelm saliva's beneficial effects and soften the tooth enamel.
Over time, these highly acidic substances, as well as the stomach liquid from acid reflux, can erode the enamel. When the enamel wears away, the sensitive inner dentin layer of the tooth is exposed, and this can lead to additional, serious complications with the health of your teeth and mouth.
Symptoms of tooth erosion include:
- Pain or irritation in your mouth
- Sensitivity to certain foods and drinks, especially hot, cold, or sweet
- Sharp tooth edges
- Darkening teeth
- Thinning or shortened teeth