Dentist’s teeth checkup with young female, series of related photos

A Midwest football fan, I know a thing or two about planning a stellar game-day menu. My white bean chicken chili recipe even won the office chili cookoff last year! 

I also know the consequences of overdoing it with food like chili, that can lead to acid reflux. Acid reflux is a condition in which your stomach contents move back up into your esophagus, the canal that connects your stomach and throat. 

It can cause heartburn, a burning feeling in your chest or neck, or even regurgitation. More than just an uncomfortable effect of overindulgence, I see all too often how acid reflux has a direct impact on your oral health.

Some acid reflux is normal after eating and is cleared naturally by saliva. But when we sleep, as we age, or when we change or increase medications, we don’t salivate as frequently. This prevents the natural cleanse and creates an acidic environment in the mouth: a perfect storm for an environment that leads to decay. 

The excess acid extracts minerals from teeth, leading to erosion of tooth enamel, the thin outer covering of the tooth. Enamel cannot be replaced but can be strengthened by increasing its mineral content. 

Dentists and dental hygienists are usually the first to identify acid reflux during dental exams and cleanings, even in patients with outstanding home hygiene. 

In addition to the benefits of a regular professional dental cleaning for preventing tooth erosion, they may recommend a high-mineral toothpaste like 3M Clinpro 5000 or MI Paste, a great way to strengthen tooth enamel. Ask your hygienist about the best option for your unique mouth. 

Frequent acid reflux, called gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) increases the risk of esophageal cancer, so definitely consult your general practitioner about chronic acid reflux.

After indulging on tailgating day, consider treating acid reflex with over-the-counter antacids and a mouth rinse like Biotene. On non-tailgating days, choose healthier food options, drink plenty of water throughout the day, and brush and floss regularly to safeguard against an overly acidic mouth. 

Also, reach out to me if you want to try my game-day chili recipe this fall!

Sydney Caskey, DDS is a dentist in practice with ROC Dental Group in Bluffton.