Vomiting or feeling nauseous is never a fun experience, and whether you are experiencing morning sickness, dealing with a virus, or you throw up from anxiety, the last thing you’re probably thinking about is your oral health.
Unfortunately, the effects of nausea and vomiting include more than just short-term misery and the inability to digest foods. It can damage your teeth and cause many oral health problems later in life.
In this post, we’re going to tell you more about how to prevent this damage, and what you can do to keep your smile bright and intact after periods of nausea or vomiting.
Vomiting and Oral Health
When you vomit, you expel acid and bile from your stomach out through your mouth. This bile hits your teeth and gums.
Any sort of acidic material is dangerous for your teeth and can cause erosion. So, the more you vomit, the more you risk wearing down your enamel and exposing the inner layers of your teeth.
Stomach acid also affects other areas of the mouth. Excessive amounts of acid will irritate the salivary glands of your mouth and lead to swelling. These glands help to protect your teeth and produce saliva, so it is important to protect these salivary glands.
Vomiting even causes damage to the gums, the inside of the lips, and your throat. Too much acid can cause mouth sores. If these sores are left untreated or continue to come into contact with stomach acid, they could become infected.
Nausea, morning sickness, and viruses can all lead to vomiting. If the vomiting is a result of bulimia, you may face extra oral health risks. The side effects from malnourishment can increase your risk of gum disease, causing even further damage to your teeth and gums.
Acid Reflux and Oral Health
Stomach acid doesn’t have to take the form of vomit to have negative effects on your teeth. Researchers predict that one in five Americans experience some form of acid reflux, a condition in which gastric fluid is brought back up into the esophagus.
Many people treat acid reflux as a minor but uncomfortable experience. Unfortunately, when the gastric fluid comes up through the esophagus, it can still hit the mouth and cause erosion of the teeth. Take acid reflux seriously, and treat symptoms to prevent further damage to the mouth.
How To Protect Your Teeth From Nausea, Vomiting, and Other Illnesses
The first thing you can do to reduce these effects is prevent nausea and vomiting in the first place. Take medication for your stomach virus, or eliminate foods that trigger acid reflux (caffeine, alcohol, etc.). If you can control whether or not you get nauseous or vomit, take these steps first.
Use Sugar-Free Cough Drops
If you are sick with a cough or a cold, you could still put your teeth in danger. Some cough drops contain sugar that eat away at your enamel and cause similar effects to nausea or vomiting. Choose a sugar-free variety to enjoy without guilt.
Brush Frequently – But Not Immediately After Vomiting
If you are currently sick, you may feel tempted to brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. Don’t give in to this urge.
The stomach acid will still be present in your mouth and brushing too quickly will only result in moving the acid around and causing damage to more of your teeth. Wait at least 30 minutes before brushing, and rinse your mouth with water beforehand to eliminate any traces of stomach acid that may cause corrosion.
The same idea goes for acid reflux. If you experience the regurgitation of stomach acid, rinse your mouth, then wait to brush.
If you get nauseous often, consider changing your toothbrush more frequently. Replacing or cleaning your toothbrush is an easy way to care for your teeth.
Nausea, vomiting, and other illnesses can cause your hydration levels to plummet. Drink water frequently as you experience symptoms – even more water than you would normally drink during the day. Your mouth will thank you.
Visit a Dentist
We wouldn’t recommend seeing a dentist immediately after a battle with a stomach virus, but make sure you schedule a dentist appointment for the near future. The sooner that your dentist catches corrosion or periodontal disease, the sooner they can treat it.
Additionally, dentists may offer fluoride treatments or other protective treatments that help your teeth battle corrosion caused by vomiting or acid reflux. They can also give you advice for dealing with mouth sores, swollen salivary glands, and other effects from nausea and vomiting.
Experts recommend that you visit a dentist once or twice a year, and if you experience nausea or vomiting, we highly recommend that you make an appointment within the next six months.
Just like nausea and vomiting are connected to oral health, oral health is connected to many other areas of the body. Stay healthy by keeping your teeth shiny and clean.