(562) 924-1523 10945 South Street, Ste. 200A, Cerritos, CA 90703

June 3, 2011

Snoring, Teeth, and Acid Reflux

Filed under: Uncategorized — Douglas Urban @ 9:09 pm

In previous articles I have discussed sleep apnea, acid erosion and worn out teeth. What do they all have in common? Why is my dentist concerned about acid reflux? Don’t teeth get worn out when we get older?
Dentists examine your teeth for premature wearing of the tooth surfaces. Some people’s teeth appear very short while others stay relatively unchanged. If the teeth are misaligned premature wear patterns will develop very early in life. That is why we recommended orthodontic correction in young adults. However, if a young adult has straight teeth yet they have abnormal wear , dentists look for other causes.
Abnormal wear can occur from inadequate lubrication from the saliva (dry mouth), an acid saliva, or from habitual grinding or gnashing of the teeth during the day and while we are asleep. It has been estimated that 30% of young children grind their teeth while sleeping. This usually disappears when the baby teeth are lost and replaced by the adult dentition. Unfortunately, adults only have one set of teeth to get by with for a lifetime so dentists take teeth grinding (pardon the pun) very seriously.
Sleep grinding episodes are related to sleep disorders. Severe snoring and pauses in breathing seem to trigger more grinding. Also, as you know the mouth is dryer at night and there is no lubrication (like well- greased bearings) to keep the teeth from abnormal wear and tear.
Acid reflux disease (GERD) can be the cause of disturbed sleep patterns. The acid contents of the stomach can gurgle up into the mouth while we are asleep. The acid level is similar to gargling with battery acid. It is very erosive and will quickly dissolve your teeth if left untreated.
So we now have the perfect storm of events occurring. As you can imagine with nighttime dry mouth, acid erosion, and teeth gnashing your dentition is in a very hostile environment. I hope you can better appreciate why your dentist may show concern over abnormal tooth wear.
The teeth will look extremely flat and worn. They will wear in odd patterns and lose a lot of vertical height. Eventually, spaces will appear at the gums between the teeth and you will look old before your time. Your dentist should take periodic close up photos of your teeth to monitor change.
What is the treatment for this problem? First, your physician should be made aware of acid indigestion and general sleepiness. Others around you may have heard uncommon snoring or mentioned a look of tiredness. Your physician may order a sleep study test to rule out sleep apnea (a life threatening problem). GERD will definitely require a change of diet, loss of weight, and usually medication. Your dentist will be able to provide a customized mouth guard to wear at night to protect the remaining teeth. Once stabilization is reached you may require restoring the teeth to their original condition.
Early detection and treatment will certainly keep the worn dentition from developing so quickly.

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Dr. Douglas Urban Cerritos CA dentist (562) 924-1523 info@drdouglasurban.com