According to the American Nutrition Association, about 70 million people are currently suffering from some kind of digestive issue. This can include everything from acid reflux to constipation to ulcers and more. The mouth plays a very important role in the digestive process because the health of your teeth and gums is crucial to your body’s ability to break down foods. However, what many people don’t know is that certain gastrointestinal disorders in Lincoln can actually affect oral health as well. How so? Below, we discuss some of the most common digestive issues in the country and how they can impact someone’s oral health.
Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD/Heartburn)
When a person has heartburn, this means that the acid in their stomach is entering their esophagus and/or oral cavity, exposing very sensitive tissue to this corrosive substance. As a result, people often experience a burning sensation in their chest as well as a bad taste in their mouth. This acid is often able to reach the back teeth and is strong enough to damage the enamel, weakening these crucial teeth to the point that they develop decay or fractures.
A patient with this condition should talk with their doctor to get it under control, but they should also mention it to their dentist. They might prescribe an oral rinse or fluoride treatment to strengthen these teeth and keep them protected over time.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 3 million Americans are suffering from IBD, which includes well-known conditions such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis.
Along with chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract, IBD can also show signs in the mouth, particularly with children. Patients can sometimes develop sores, infections, and bleeding or swollen gums as an extension of the IBD inflammation.
Fortunately, IBD can be successfully managed with medication, but it can sometimes cause dry mouth, which makes a person more vulnerable to developing cavities and gum disease. A patient should always let their dentist know about any medications they are taking so their dentist can consider them when providing care. They may recommend at-home practices to counteract the effects of IBD medication or prescribe something to help keep the mouth adequately hydrated.
A peptic ulcer is a sore that develops in the lining of the stomach, lower esophagus, or small intestine. It affects more than 6 million Americans every year, and they used to be attributed to stress. Recently, however, these sores were found to be the result of a certain type of bacteria.
As with IBD, medication can be used to treat peptic ulcers, but this can often cause adverse effects to dental health, such as dry mouth, black tongue, or an odd taste in the mouth.
Like we mentioned above, you should let your dentist know about any medication you are taking so they can adjust their treatment accordingly. They may also be able to recommend an OTC medication to help reduce the side-effects of ulcer medication.
What to Remember
Needless to say, digestive issues are no fun, and adding dental problems on top of them just makes things much worse. However, by seeing your doctor, getting the appropriate treatment, and keeping your dentist in the loop, you can make sure your body and your smile stay happy and healthy year after year.
About the Author
Dr. Chris Haag is a family, restorative, and cosmetic dentist in Lincoln who currently practices at Pioneer Greens Dentistry. A graduate of the Nebraska College of Dentistry, he has provided state-of-the-art and family-friendly dentistry to patients of all ages for nearly 30 years. If you have any questions about the blog you’ve just read, Dr. Haag can be contacted through his website.