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Tooth Erosion - Do Not Use Antacids

Updated on July 25, 2010

Following my article about tooth abrasion and acid erosion

a few patients have told me that they regularly chew an antacid such as Rennie or Gaviscon to neutralize acids in their mouths. I'll tell you what I told them - please, please don't do that. Apart from there being no conclusive evidence that antacids significantly reduce acid levels in all areas of the mouth, it is potentially dangerous to over use these medicaments.

In order for digestion to work properly, the stomach has to maintain a level of acidity. If antacids are taken too frequently or in high enough doses to reduce stomach acid to below normal, the body protects itself by reacting with a surge of acid production - and it produces more acid than is needed to return things to normal. This in turn leads to heartburn and other digestive symptoms. So then you take more antacids to ease the symptoms. This leads to more rebound acid production, which causes more indigestion - and you're in a downward spiral.

In addition to this, antacids containing calcium carbonate or sodium bicarbonate are readily absorbed by the body and could, in sufficient dose, cause a systemic pH imbalance. It has been suggested that this could lead to kidney damage.

Each type of antacid also has its own set of potential side effects. If taken in excessive doses or for long periods of time, antacids containing magnesium and sodium bicarbonate can have laxative properties. Those containing aluminum and calcium carbonate or bismuth subsalicylate can cause constipation. And of course, as with all medicines, there are other side effects which occur in rare cases. These include nausea, headaches, urinary effects, altered appetite, muscle weakness, urinary tract disorders and allergic reactions.

So, to avoid eroding your teeth:

  • Reduce your intake of acidic foods and drinks and limit them to meal times.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth for half an hour following citrus fruit or an acidic drink.
  • Rinse your mouth with water immediately after eating or drinking something acidic.
  • Stimulate saliva production with sugar-free gum.
  • Do not over use antacid medicaments.

Tom Nolan is a dentist with over 30 years’ experience.

If you found this article useful, you should check out his book

Watch Your Mouth – An Owner’s Manual.

Also available as a download. This book is packed with practical advice and will tell you everything you need to know to keep your mouth healthy, trouble-free and beautiful for the rest of your life.

You can get in touch via Tom's practice: The Dentist in Town


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      7 years ago

      Chew but don't swallow...all problems solved.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      oh god... when ever i threw up, i brushed my teeth and took an antiacid chewable lolly... i thought that'll neutralize it :'( it is so tempting to... i should've known its okay to wash mouth and chew gum.. thanx for the article!


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