Gut health is directly linked to overall health. People with a healthy gut tend to be sick less frequently than those with GI (gastrointestinal) issues. This is because most cells that make up the immune system are located in the gut. But gut health is also linked to oral health. If you are prone to stomach issues such as acid reflux, small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), heartburn, bloating, and gas, or if you’ve been diagnosed with leaky gut syndrome, your posterior (back) teeth may be eroding to the point that they have to be removed. We aren’t being dramatic by this statement. It is a growing problem raising more than a few eyebrows. Read on for the dirt. 

Stomach acid is quite acidic, with a pH between 1 and 2. Battery acid is also quite acidic, with a pH of around 0.8. If battery acid can dissolve metal, surely stomach acid can dissolve teeth. And it does. Sadly, many people don’t realize it is happening, or the onset is so fast they don’t have a warning.

Dr. Andy Engel (Dr. Andy) has been treating patients as a dentist for over 25 years, and he has never seen a surge in tooth erosion cases as he is right now. And he is bound and determined to get to the bottom of it, or at least help prevent you from getting it (hence this blog). 

“The first time I saw a handful of cases of tooth erosion in patients who were otherwise healthy, I was surprised,” said Dr. Andy. “But recently, the cases have increased, and the damage is happening much more aggressively. I have seen cases where the patient was doing great six months ago and now has significant damage to their teeth.”

Research has shown that about half of all people who have GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disorder) have significant tooth erosion compared to healthy people. Why is this? Well, tooth enamel can erode at a pH of 5. We already shared that stomach acid is between 1 and 2. That spicy meal you enjoyed last night visited you repeatedly in the form of burp bubbles and indigestion, likely bringing up acid. Over time, the acid can erode teeth. However, the amount of time it takes to cause damage to the teeth can vary depending on if you have other issues at play. 

Some red-flag health issues that are very destructive and cause rapid enamel erosion and bacterial overgrowth include: 

  • Dry mouth
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • Acid reflux 
  • Imbalanced mouth pH 
  • Imbalanced pH in their diet
  • Clenching teeth
  • Grinding teeth
  • Smoking
  • Vaping

According to Dr. Andy, many people don’t realize they have an issue with acid coming back up because they don’t feel the signature burn. That, my friend, is what we call a stealthy enamel destroyer. So, what on earth is happening? If the gut’s pH is out of balance, bacteria can proliferate. The overgrowth of bacteria can cause acid buildup, which comes up, hits the posterior teeth, and commences enamel annihilation. 

So let’s connect the dots. We know that acid reflux and GI health can impact tooth health. We know that acid can eat away at teeth. But why are otherwise healthy people without a history of tooth erosion having issues suddenly? You must stick around while we figure it out because there isn’t an answer. All we can do is share what we hypothesize to be the culprit, and that is GI health. 

You may be wondering where you fit in. If you don’t know you have an issue, how do you prevent it from worsening? Well, that’s why we’re here, my friend. To help you prevent issues – teeth issues.

One of the best ways to tame an unhappy belly is with diet. According to John Hopkins Medical, the best diets balance whole grains, leafy greens, low protein, low fructose fruits, and avocado. But eating a balanced and healthy diet doesn’t mean you won’t have erosion. Dr. Andy has found that despite eating a healthy, low-acid diet, some of his patients are still experiencing rapid enamel erosion. 

Another big step in the anti-acid movement is to get a dental exam and cleaning every six months. Remember, this issue can creep up seemingly out of nowhere and will only worsen the longer it is left untreated. Do your teeth a favor and stop the progression. 

There are some treatments available that can help rebalance your mouth’s pH, but that is only a band-aid to a more significant problem. You could also take an antacid to counteract acid, but again, that is just a band-aid. Would you rather get to the bottom of the problem or put band-aids on it for the rest of your life? Band-aids will only get you so far before the destruction surpasses what a band-aid can cover. That’s why Dr. Andy is teaming up with other healthcare professionals to get to the root cause of the issue.

The heart of the matter is that this issue is happening suddenly and without warning. If you are due for a dental exam and cleaning, don’t put it off. The costs of ignoring your oral health far outweigh a short visit to your friendly dentist’s office. And if you have any of the red flags we mentioned above, talk to Dr. Andy so you can work together to prevent it from happening to you. 

We want you to be healthy so you can enjoy a long and beautiful life. If you have questions or concerns about enamel erosion, please contact us or schedule an appointment with Dr. Andy. He can’t wait to see you.

Living Dental Health