Keeping Your Teeth Healthy After Weight Loss Surgery

By Theresa Cleary, DMD

Dental ProphyMany studies have shown an increase in oral health problems after weight loss surgery. Investigations are ongoing as to the underlying causes, but possible reasons are an increase in the frequency of eating, changes in saliva, issues with acid reflux or changes in the composition of oral bacteria.

To properly care for your teeth and gums, always start with the basics: two minutes of brushing twice a day and flossing once per day. Whether or not you have experienced changes in your mouth after your procedure, follow these five tips to help decrease your risk of cavities and gum disease.

1. Dry Mouth

In addition to the recommended water intake, sugar-free gum after meals can help clear food debris from your teeth and the sweet taste can stimulate your salivary glands. For an added benefit, look for the ingredient Xylitol. Xylitol is a natural sweetener made from birch trees that help reduce the number of cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.

2. Controlling Your Diabetes

Did you know that diabetes can lead to or worsen gum disease? If your HbA1c value is above 7.0, speak with your dentist about additional gum treatments or cleanings that can help slow the progression of gum disease.

3. Acid Reflux

If you experience acid reflux, the acid from your stomach washes over your teeth making the outer surface of the teeth soft and weak. It is important not to brush right away as you will be brushing away the outer surface of your teeth. You can neutralize the oral acid by rinsing with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed in water and then spit out the excess. By neutralizing the acid in your mouth with baking soda, you are offering some protection to the enamel surface of your teeth.

4. Watch Your Sugar Intake

You may have become an expert at looking at hidden sugars in foods but many people are surprised at the sugar in over-the-counter medications. Check medications like chewable vitamins and antacids to see if they contain sugar. If so, make sure you brush afterwards or chew a piece of sugar-free gum.

5. Fluoride To Strengthen Teeth

Prescription-strength fluoride is an effective way to strengthen your teeth. Two popular methods are a fluoride varnish or a prescription toothpaste. Discuss with your dentist which is right for you. A fluoride varnish is a tacky solution painted onto your teeth at your dental cleaning. It has the consistency of rubber cement glue and its benefits last long after the sticky feeling goes away. Prescription toothpaste is used in place of your over-the-counter toothpaste.