It’s commonly acknowledged that stomach acid is damaging to tooth enamel. Regular exposure to stomach acid can cause the erosion of dental enamel, resulting in teeth that are weakened and discolored. These damaged teeth are easily seen and present a cosmetic problem as well as a health problem.
But stomach acid can also cause damage to your gums, resulting in receding gums that will not recover on their own.
Causes of Acid Exposure
The two main reasons why teeth are regularly exposed to stomach acid are intentional vomiting because of an eating disorder like bulimia nervosa or a digestive condition like gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
In bulimia nervosa, a person with an unrealistic body image (typically women), attempts to achieve or maintain an impossible weight using a purging behavior. The most common purging behavior is intentional vomiting. This exposes the teeth to high amounts of stomach acid, which can lead to rapid destruction of the dental enamel and damage gums. The acid can lead to receding gums, and once the gums have receded, they won’t grow back.
GERD is when acid from the stomach is bubbling up through the esophagus and into the mouth. Most often, people experience pain in the throat, a burning sensation that is often called “heartburn.” In some cases, though, there is no pain, and we have what is known as “silent GERD.” In this case, dental symptoms might be the most easily identified symptoms. By the time it’s noticed, damage will typically be too great to recover on its own.
Repairing Your Gums
Before we can repair your gums, it’s vital that you identify the cause of your receding gums and get it treated. Once the damage to your gums stops, we can use nonsurgical gum rejuvenation to get your gums back in shape.
For bulimics, especially, this can be an essential part of getting past the illness and starting a new, healthier life.