Beware! Overeating this Thanksgiving may trigger an acid reflux episode. This occurs when stomach acids flow upward into the tube (esophagus) connecting the mouth and the stomach, sometimes reaching the mouth. These highly acidic digestive fluids irritate and burn the sensitive tissues in the esophagus and mouth and can erode tooth enamel. So try to eat smaller portions this Thanksgiving, especially if you already suffer from one or more of these symptoms of acid reflux:

  • Heartburn
  • Partially digested food or sour liquid coming up from your stomach
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Coughing, wheezing and chest pain, especially while lying down
  • Hoarseness and sore throat
  • Belching, nausea, vomiting
  • Stomach ache and pain when you wake up in the morning
  • Sinus infections
  • Asthma getting worse
  • Mouth burning
  • Teeth starting to chip more easily, becoming more sensitive and discoloured
  • Bad breath

Although stuffing yourself once every three months probably won’t cause permanent damage, regularly eating way past the feeling of fullness can. Left untreated, acid reflux may lead to gastroesophageal reflux disease or GERD, and people with GERD are more likely to develop esophageal cancer and increase their risk of tooth erosion. Lower your risk of acid reflux this Thanksiving – just say “No” to that tempting turkey sandwich just before bedtime. You can also minimize acid reflux or avoid it all together by:

  • Cutting out cigarettes, alcohol, carbonated and caffeinated drinks
  • Reducing your intake of fatty foods, chocolate, garlic, onions, citrus fruits, spicy foods and mint flavouring

Other risk factors for acid reflux are:

  • Slouching, obesity, compulsive eating and bulimia which put pressure on your stomach
  • Taking medications for high blood pressure, asthma or allergies

If you think you have acid reflux or GERD, talk to your dental hygienist. They will teach you how to reduce the damage they cause and refer you to other health professionals for treatment.