GERD Awareness Week: Don't Ignore the Signs!

It's National GERD Awareness Week (November 21-27, 2021) and we're here to spread the word about this common condition that can even play a major role on your oral health. GERD is short for Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, and impacts approximately 1 in every 5 Americans.

This national campaign has a rich history, and first began in November 1999. The International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD) aims to educate and provide resources and support for those who know loved ones or are themselves suffering from GERD. Annually, this observance occurs during the week of Thanksgiving, which is often a time when many Americans may experience common symptoms of GERD, for example heartburn, surrounding the beloved Thanksgiving feasts. If symptoms like heartburn become chronic or you notice other strange abnormalities, this could be a sign that something more serious is occurring. Other common signs and symptoms of GERD, many of which are noticeable within the mouth, include:

  • Regurgitation of food or liquids
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain, especially while lying down
  • Hoarseness and sore throat
  • Belching, nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach ache and pain on awakening
  • Sinus infections
  • Worsening symptoms of asthma
  • Burning mouth
  • Tooth enamel erosion, increased wear and tooth decay due to constant acid exposure
  • Tooth chipping
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Yellow tooth discoloration
  • Bad breath
Acid reflux/gastroesophageal reflux results when stomach acids enter the esophagus and move upward toward or sometimes into the mouth. Stomach acids naturally are made by the body to help with food digestion, and the esophageal sphincter muscle is supposed to close once food passes through to the stomach. In individuals with GERD, the esophageal sphincter does not close properly, allowing the stomach acid to move backwards into the esophagus. When acid reflux occurs frequently, this can lead to GERD. Overtime, the lining of the esophagus can become inflamed and damaged. In addition, more serious conditions can arise, including a disease called Barrett’s esophagus, or even esophageal cancer. This is why early detection and diagnosis are extremely important, as it can help prevent or delay progression of this condition before permanent damage occurs. If you believe you may have GERD, speak with your healthcare professionals.

Wondering how you can spend this GERD Awareness week? Here's how:

  1. Make good food and drink choices.The foods we eat can impact a lot, including oral health, and conditions like GERD. Avoid acidic foods and drinks such as caffeine like coffee, sodas, citrus fruits, cranberries,  chocolate, peppermint, and spicy foods to help control GERD symptoms. This will also help lower your risk of developing tooth decay. Plus, limiting the amount of food you intake at each meal, avoiding eating close to bedtime, as well as eating more slowly can help improve digestion.
  2. Avoid alcohol or tobacco use, as these habits can worsen acid reflux symptoms and can negatively impact your teeth and body.
  3. Monitor your weight and posture, as obesity and poor posture increase acid reflux symptoms.
  4.  Maintain good oral hygiene. Be sure you are having your regular dental and cleaning appointments, brushing twice a day, and flossing daily. Use a toothpaste containing fluoride. Toothpastes with baking soda can also help neutralize acids. It is important not to brush immediately after oral exposure to acid, as this can can cause more damage to teeth (It is recommended to wait at least 30 minutes afterwards). Instead, rinse immediately with water.

This pandemic has impacted us all, but our community is indeed all stronger together. Our team at WDG always has your safety and health as our top priority, and we have implemented additional safety measures and equipment to help prevent the transmission of all infections, including COVID-19. Wellesley Dental Group has completely reopened since June 8th, 2020 for all dental procedures and cleanings! Thank you for entrusting your health and dental care to us at Wellesley Dental Group.

Feel free to contact Drs. Ali & Ali and the caring team at Wellesley Dental Group if you have any thoughts or concerns; they will be happy to answer your questions! Contact us today at 781-237-9071 or smile@wellesleydentalgroup.com to set up an appointment.
Your little ones and teens are welcome to visit our pediatric dentist, Dr. Bahar Houshman and Dr. Marisa Reason is happy to help with your TMJ and orthodontic needs. For wisdom teeth extractions or any other oral surgery needs, Dr. Reisman would love to help, and our gum-specialist Dr. Singh can help with your gum-related concerns.
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