Your body’s health is connected on a holistic level. For instance, diabetes is linked to gum disease. Gum disease is also linked to heart disease.

There’s even a link between acid reflux and tooth decay. If you’ve ever had acid reflux, you’re aware how uncomfortable it feels.

Acid reflux, also known as heartburn, feels like devils are fighting each other with tridents in your chest. It is one of the most uncomfortable experiences known to man.

Some people have even mistaken their acid reflux as heart attacks. When acid reflux occurs on a routine basis, it’s called GERD. GERD stands for gastroesophageal reflux disease.

What Causes Acid Reflux

A lot of factors play into acid reflux. While some people are genetically predisposed to GERD, lifestyle factors can also play a vital key.

Acid reflux happens when the valve connecting your stomach and esophagus malfunction. The valve that lets food in your stomach and not back up is called your “esophageal sphincter.”

When your esophageal sphincter opens too much, stomach acid can seep back up into your esophagus and eventually your mouth.

If you’re already predisposed to acid reflux, a lot of lifestyle choices can make it worse. Here are some underlying risk factors for acid reflux:

  • Eating huge meals: With summertime holidays in tow, it’s easy to eat your weight in BBQ ribs, hamburgers, and all of the cookout food you can imagine. Be careful about eating large meals, because they can lead to acid reflux, especially if you lay down after. Laying down after a meal makes it more difficult for your body to digest, and you could end up with some acid reflux.
  • Eating fatty, acidic, or spicy foods: Summertime is the best time to partake in rich foods. However, if you’re already predisposed to reflux, you should avoid certain foods. Eating acidic foods are harder to digest and cause an overproduction of acid your stomach that you won’t want to come back up later.
  • Drinking acidic drinks, alcohol, or carbonated drinks: Carbonated drinks and alcohol are not only bad for your teeth, but they can also lead to reflux disease. Most carbonated drinks already have phosphoric acid, which is hard for your stomach to process. Fizzy drinks have a habit of fizzing back up through your esophagus. Furthermore, alcohol weakens muscles in your esophagus, making them less effective for digestion.
  • Smoking: Smoking is already a risk factor that’s harmful for your dental health. Similar to alcohol, smoking relaxes the muscles in your esophagus, allowing acid to creep back up your throat and into your mouth.

How Acid Reflux Harms Your Teeth

Not only do a lot of the causes of GERD harm your teeth, but the actual stomach acid that comes back up erodes your enamel.

Oftentimes, GERD leads to dry mouth, which is also bad for your dental health.

Without healthy saliva production, your mouth can rinse away bacteria and plaque. Dry gums can also lead to gum disease.

Not to mention, the medicines that combat GERD also cause dry mouth. Suffering from dry mouth might lead you to sucking on candy or mints, which can do a whole other number on your teeth.

Avoid dental issues created by GERD by drinking water and avoiding food that contribute to acid reflux.

If your GERD is kicked into high gear this summer, we recommend visiting a physician to put it to rest. Keep your teeth healthy by keeping the rest of your body healthy.