The Affects of GERD, Acid Reflux & Builimia on Your Teeth & How Your Dentist Spots It

There are dozens of things that can affect your teeth. Perhaps only a few are as damaging as sugar, and as destructive to your tooth health as a punch in the face. Sadly, if you have any of the following health conditions, your dentist can tell that there is something going on. He or she is likely to notice it quickly, ask you some questions, and then note it in your health charts for another time. 


Gastro-esophageal reflux disease is a persistent disorder of the stomach and esophagus. What happens is that the stomach acid, rather than staying in the stomach, is released backward into the esophagus and continues to travel in a reverse fashion back into your throat and into your mouth. It is much worse than acid reflux, as GERD tends to destroy the protective enamel on many of your back teeth. It erodes the enamel such that your teeth appear a sort of flat, eggshell color and texture. Your back teeth experience many more problems with decay and cavities as a result. These results and signs are shared with three other health problems.

Acid Reflux

Acid reflux is an occasional problem with stomach acid rising into your throat. It is very much like GERD, except that acid reflux does not occur daily. You may experience acid reflux only after consuming highly acidic foods that upset your stomach. On occasion, the stomach acid rises as high as your wisdom teeth and your next set of molars, but rarely does it ever flood the back of your mouth like GERD does. Still, your dentist will be able to spot the effects of acid reflux on these teeth.

Bulimia Nervosa

Bulimia is a psychological disorder that causes patients to binge-eat and then force themselves to vomit. Over time, it becomes extremely difficult to keep food in your stomach as your stomach learns to respond to food as something to eject through vomiting. Whether you are a current sufferer of builimia, or you are in recovery, your dentist will spot the effects of the vomiting on your teeth.

ALL of your teeth, even your front teeth, will have NO enamel left from the constant vomiting. The lack of enamel will reveal discolored patches on the backs of your front teeth and the sides and tops of your molars. Since there is nothing your dentist can do to reverse this, the only thing he or she can do is attempt to seal your teeth or crown all of them to protect them from further rounds of stomach acid.

A Word on Alcoholism

Additionally, alcoholism can be another disease that affects the enamel on your teeth. Like bulimia, the regular vomiting associated with the disease and the binge-drinking of alcohol will erode away the enamel. Both alcoholism and bulimia will present your dentist with similar signs on your teeth. As such, you cannot hide either the builimia or the alcoholism. If you suffer from either, your dentist may try to refer you to a counselor or therapist in an attempt to save you and your teeth.

Getting Medical Attention

Seeing the damage to the enamel on your teeth signals the dentist to ask some questions. If you choose not to answer them, that is up to you. However, your dentist will advise you to seek medical attention for physical diseases and disorders, and seek cognitive behavioral help for the psychological disorders that are directly impacting the health of your teeth. They will not pressure you to do so, but they are trying to act in the best interests of your overall health. It may be worth it to heed their advice.

To learn more about these and other issues that could affect your teeth, contact dentists such as Dr. Peggy Alvarez-Penabad.