How To Protect Your Teeth When Vomiting

No one enjoys getting sick, and they enjoy throwing up even less. But unfortunately, it happens from time to time. And when it does, it's important to know that vomiting isn't just hard on your stomach, it can also be hard on your mouth.

When you vomit, the acid that is in your stomach is carried up into your mouth and over your teeth and gums (via Delta Dental). The contents of your stomach are made up of such compounds as hydrochloric acid, sodium chloride, and potassium chloride, which can be bad news for your pearly whites. The low pH level of stomach acid, which comes in around 2.0 or below, means that it is highly acidic, according to Cornerstone Dental Group. By comparison, your mouth's pH level is normally 7.0, and the threshold for enamel erosion starts at 5.5. The more stomach acid your teeth are exposed to, the more enamel will begin to wear away. Jamie Sands, D.D.S., reports that the more enamel you lose, the more translucent your teeth will become and the risk of needing significant dental work increases.

Don't brush your teeth right away

When you throw up, the first impulse might be to brush your teeth. But according to Appledore Dental Clinic, that is an impulse you should resist. Given the weakening effect that stomach acid has on enamel, brushing your teeth immediately after throwing up can result in causing further damage to your tooth enamel. Instead, Healthy Smiles of St. Louis proposes immediately rinsing out your mouth with water, which will remove acids more easily and prevent decay. However, you can smear a small amount of toothpaste over your teeth to help create a protective barrier against acid. You can also use an alcohol-free mouthwash to swish out some of the acid and keep your teeth safe.

In addition to rinsing with water, Caputo Dental recommends a solution made with water and baking soda. The baking soda will work to counteract the high acidity of your stomach acid. Once you've rinsed with this solution, the danger to your teeth from the acid should be much less.

You need to protect your teeth and your mouth

In addition to your teeth, stomach acid can have a negative impact on your mouth overall (via South Florida Dental Care). Excess stomach acid can cause your salivary glands to swell up. The salivary glands work to protect your teeth and to maintain moisture in your mouth by producing saliva. 

Appledore Dental Clinic warns that if you have frequent vomiting, you can also face cavities, mouth and tongue redness, dry mouth, and chronic sore throats. South Florida Dental Care also points out that excessive stomach acid in the mouth can damage the gums and the inside of your throat, as well as cause mouth sores. In worst-case scenarios, stomach acid can affect the way your teeth come together and even cause tooth loss and the need for oral surgery. If you're vomiting excessively or regularly, you should speak with your doctor to try and uncover the cause.