Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is not only unpleasant to deal with, it can also seriously affect your oral health. Have you heard of the gum-chewing tip? You may think it’s too good to be true, but think again: it can actually help you neutralize reflux! Your Boucherville dentist explains the chemistry behind the trick.
The Centre Dentaire & D’implantologie Boucherville helps you maintain good oral health, and even good global health. Your South Shore dentist takes care of you.
A Proven Tip!
Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or acid reflux, does exactly what its name implies: some of the contents of the stomach (gastro), including the acid it contains, flow back into the esophagus. This rise can go as far as the pharynx and even back into the mouth, causing an acid taste and sensations of burning and irritation throughout the digestive tract.
It is precisely the acidity that causes these sensations as well as some longer-term damage to both the esophagus and the teeth. This is because it erodes the enamel and makes the teeth more susceptible to various conditions such as cavities.
What does gum have to do with this process? For one thing, its alkaline pH helps neutralize the acid. On the other hand, chewing stimulates the production of saliva and therefore swallowing. Moreover, saliva also helps neutralize acids, since it is composed of bicarbonate, phosphates, and urea, which are alkaline elements.
It is therefore true that chewing gum can reduce acid reflux. To do this, it is advisable to chew sugarless gum for 30 minutes after eating. Avoid sugary gums, which stimulate acid attacks on the teeth!
Bicarbonate gums, which are sugar-free, are preferable: the alkalinity of the bicarbonate, in addition to that of your saliva, will neutralize the acids more effectively.
Although studies confirm the effectiveness of chewing gum against reflux, a debate persists concerning peppermint, which could worsen the symptoms. Indeed, it would contribute to relaxing the sphincter and would let the reflux pass through more easily. When in doubt, it is therefore preferable to choose flavours other than peppermint.
Of course, it is best to combine this trick with other strategies to limit reflux. Avoiding eating within three hours of bedtime and elevating your head when you sleep are two examples.
Likewise, smoking, in addition to being harmful to your teeth, is a factor that aggravates acid reflux.
In addition to reducing acid reflux, the gum method is beneficial for teeth. Indeed, acids contribute to the formation of dental plaque, a layer of bacteria responsible for cavities: neutralizing them by stimulating salivation and mixing an alkaline product can only be beneficial.
In addition, the increased saliva production helps to eliminate food detritus more quickly, especially sugars, which act together with acids in the formation of dental plaque.
Of course, gum, as beneficial as it may be, should never replace brushing and flossing.
Take Care of Yourself, Come and See Your Dentist!
There are many health problems and medications that can potentially harm your teeth. Your dentist can help you prevent these conditions: visit him or her regularly to treat problems at their source and to make an early diagnosis!
The Dental Center at 550 Mortagne in Boucherville is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and highly trained professionals. Do not hesitate to entrust them with your health concerns, dental or otherwise: our team is understanding and will give you the best advice.