Category Archives: Acid Reflux

Fluoride Treatments – Are They Really Necessary?

Water and faucetFluoride is a natural mineral that is found in various concentrations in soil and drinking water.

Why is fluoride important?

Every day, a tooth’s enamel (the outer layer that makes a tooth hard) has minerals both added to it (remineralization) and removed from it (demineralization).  During Tooth anatomyremineralization, minerals such as fluoride, calcium, and phosphate are added to the enamel layer via foods and drinks that contain these minerals.  Minerals are lost (demineralization) when acids—from bacteria in the mouth and certain foods and drinks – attack the enamel.  Tooth decay results when the enamel loses more minerals than it receives.

How does fluoride prevent tooth decay?

Fluoride helps to prevent tooth decay by making the tooth more resistant to acid attacks.  Fluoride also helps to speed remineralization of erupted teeth in both children and adults.

Where is fluoride found?

Fluoride toothpasteAlthough some foods, such as seafood and certain teas, naturally contain fluoride, the primary source of fluoride is drinking water.  Tap water in most cities in the United States contains fluoride.  Some, but not all, bottled waters contain fluoride.  Fluoride also can be applied directly to teeth through toothpastes and mouth rinses that contain fluoride.  You can buy these products at most pharmacies and grocery stores.

Dr. Marinic and/or his hygienist can also apply fluoride directly to your teeth in the form of a gel, foam, or varnish.  These products contain a much higher level of fluoride than toothpastes and mouth rinses.

When should fluoride use begin?

Infants and children between the ages of 6 months and 16 years shouldInfant smiling receive fluoride.  Their primary teeth and permanent teeth develop during these ages, so the stronger their enamel is, the better.  Because most children receive their first permanent teeth at around age 6, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends prescribing fluoride supplements for children between the ages of 6 and 16 who are at high risk for dental caries and whose community water source is less than optimal.  In areas that have minimal fluoride in the water, fluoride supplementation may begin earlier.

Although fluoride is an immediate concern for children and adolescents, adults also can benefit from fluoride.  Topical fluoride – including toothpastes, mouth rinses, and fluoride treatments – is as important for fighting tooth decay in adults as it is for strengthening the teeth of children.

When is additional fluoride necessary?

Additional fluoride treatment can benefit children and adults with certain oral conditions, including dry mouth, gum disease, and cavities.  Dry mouth makes an individual more prone to tooth decay because the decreased saliva production makes it harder to wash away food particles and thus decrease the cavity-causing acids.  Gum disease can expose more of the tooth and tooth roots to bacteria, increasing the chance of tooth decay.  Patients who have many cavities and develop new ones each year may benefit from additional fluoride treatment.

Additional fluoride might also be appropriate for patients with crowns, bridges, and braces, as the portion of the tooth that isn’t covered by a crown, bridge, or brace may be at greater risk for tooth decay.  To find out if you and/or your children are receiving enough fluoride or should consider fluoride treatment or supplements, ask Dr. Marinic.  He may prescribe fluoride supplements (in liquid or pill form) or offer suggestions for increasing the amount of fluoride you receive.

GERD – What is it good for? Absolutely Nothing

Man with heart burnMore than 10 percent of Americans experience the burning and discomfort of heartburn every day.  What many don’t know is that heartburn, or acid indigestion, is a common symptom of chronic acid reflux, also known as gastroesopheageal reflux disease (GERD).

What is acid reflux and GERD?

Acid reflux occurs when muscles of the lower esophagus relax and allow Digestive systemstomach acids to flow upwards into the esophagus and even the mouth.  These stomach acids can cause irritation and inflammation of the esophagus while negatively impacting your oral health.  Acid reflux may progress further, developing into GERD.  In patients who have GERD, the esophageal muscles are unable to keep stomach acids from flowing upwards, causing corrosion of the esophageal lining and the uncomfortable burning sensation associated with heartburn.

Signs and symptoms

Though often times difficult to detect, GERD can be associated with the following signs and symptoms:Woman coughing

  • Heartburn
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Regurgitation
  • Burning sensation in mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea, vomiting, belching
  • Chronic coughing
  • Erosion of tooth enamel
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Chipping, discoloration of teeth
  • Bad breath

How does GERD affect your oral health?

Tooth erosionIn addition to damaging the esophagus and increasing your risk of esophageal cancer, over time GERD can erode tooth enamel.  Research indicates tooth enamel begins to erode at a pH, or acid level, of 5.5.  With a pH of less than 2.0, your stomach acid can easily damage tooth enamel and cause increased tooth sensitivity, decay, discoloration, and chipping.

Treatments and lifestyle modifications

GERD can be diagnosed by your physician using a variety of tests, including pH monitoring, X-rays, or endoscopy.  Though GERD is a chronic condition, its symptoms can be treated using medications and lifestyle modifications.  In addition to taking over-the-counter antacids and prescription H2 receptor blockers, you can reduce GERD symptoms by:

  • Avoiding trigger foods and beverages, including chocolate, spicy/greasyGreasy food foods, tomato-based foods, alcohol, and coffee
  • Quitting smoking
  • Refraining from eating several hours before bed, or lying down two to three hours after eating
  • Losing weight if you are overweight or obese
  • Avoiding tight clothing

Protect your teeth against acid reflux

Practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent acid reflux or GERD from damaging your teeth and causing decay.  In addition to brushing twice a day, you can take the following steps to ensure GERD doesn’t impact your oral health:

  • Visit our dental office at least twice a year for tooth enamel evaluation
  • Use dentin-sensitive toothpaste
  • Rinse your mouth with water following acid reflux episodes
  • Do not brush your teeth for 60 minutes after consuming acidic foods or drinks
  • Dissolve baking soda in water and swish around the mouth after acid reflux occurs
  • Receive fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth
  • Wear a dentist-prescribed mouth guard at night to prevent acid from damaging your teeth
  • Avoid over-the-counter antacids, especially at night, that have high sugar content

If you believe you may be at risk for acid reflux or GERD, speak with Dr. Marinic or your primary physician.  Though GERD can be incredibly damaging to your oral health, lifestyle modifications and treatment can help ensure your teeth remain safe and healthy.

This article has been modified from The Academy of General Dentistry.