Acid Reflux affects as many as 40% of Americans. That number has has grown at 4% a year since 1976, according to statistics offered by the leading researcher and author on the subject, Dr. Jamie Kaufman. Sadly, acid reflux can lead to it’s mean predecessor, Barrett’s Esophagus, the precursor to esophageal cancer. Although this cancer is not yet common, it’s particularly deadly.
Most of us don’t know we have reflux until we have heartburn or regurgitation, where we throw up a little bit in our mouth. Then we might take medications to control the episodes but the medications have serious long-term consequences. It’s best to detect reflux early and figure out the root cause. As you guessed, it’s almost always related to our diet and lifestyle.
Early detection helps avoid a cancer risk. Dr. Kaufman has written extensively on the “silent symptoms” of reflux—those that occur long before there are pepsin-burning, tissue-damaging, and yes, cancer-causing changes to the lining of the esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach).
What are the silent symptoms? Chronic cough, throat clearing, hoarse voice—especially in the morning, post nasal drip, and acid erosion of your teeth! Your teeth really do reflect early signs of acid reflux because stomach acid erodes (dissolves) enamel.
Dr. Susan and our hygienists are skilled at looking for oral signs of reflux including the indicative erosive patterns, gum inflammation and the other silent symptoms.
Along with developing yellowish and sensitive teeth, acid eroded teeth are more prone to dental decay and destruction from tooth grinding.
To see if you might suffer from acid reflux, take Dr. Susan’s SelfScreen survey and see how your signs and symptoms stack up.
If you find you are moderate or high risk, or you already know you suffer from acid reflux, talk to your physician about a short course of medications, while you address some necessary diet and lifestyle changes. Dr. Susan suggests learning more about this condition from Dr. Jamie Kaufman’s book: Dropping Acid: The Reflux Diet Cookbook and Cure.
Also see Dr. Susan’s book BlabberMouth! 77 Secrets Only Your Mouth Can Tell You to Live a Happier, Healthier, Sexier Life to get the inside scoop on the oral-total health connection.