A Dentist Explains How Your Pylorus Sphincter Influences Digestion

Posted on: November 2, 2015

DentistAs a dentist, we know everything in the body is connected. Things like your pylorus sphincter (smooth muscle) may seem entirely unrelated to your oral health, but what happens before and during digestion can lead to GERD or acid secretion. If acid is allowed to travel to the back of your throat, that acid can be corrosive to your teeth, leading to erosion and weakened enamel. Therefore, what happens with your pylorus sphincter is absolutely relevant to your oral health.

How Everything Is Connected

When you eat, the food is broken down and then swallowed. From there, it makes its descent through your esophagus and past the esophagus sphincter. This is a small muscle ring that opens to let food travel to the stomach but quickly closes to prevent the stomach acids from escaping back into your throat. Next, you have your fundus, where gas is stored, and your longitudinal muscle layer, circular muscle layer, and oblique muscle layer. As the next step in the process, the antrum food and gastric secretions mix to produce chyme. The chyme is pushed through your pylorus sphincter as part of gastric emptying. It goes into the duodenum, which is the first part of the small intestine where nutrient absorption first takes place.

Why the Pylorus Sphincter Is Important

As a dentist, we realize that every aspect of your body is an important part of the whole. The pylorus sphincter is necessary because it is the gate to your digestive system. It sends a controlled and regulated amount of chyme into your duodenum (small intestine) so your body can process and absorb nutrients in a consistent manner, rather than receiving more than it can use or process at one time. This process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour to complete, after you are done eating.

The pylorus sphincter is also important because if it does not open wide enough or at all, digestion will be prohibited, you will end up vomiting up food, and your body will lack the nutrition it needs to thrive.  Simultaneously, it prevents the chyme from regurgitating up from your duodenum back into your stomach.

Health Problems With the Pylorus Sphincter

Problems can develop with the pylorus sphincter if stomach cancer is present, if it is narrower than it is supposed to be, or if there are tumors in the area. Babies will frequently suffer from constant vomiting if the pylorus sphincter is too narrow at birth. Necessary stents can be implanted to help with digestion. While this is a surgical procedure, it can be one of the only ways to make sure enough food and nutrients are digested by the newborn baby or by someone whose pylorus sphincter is closing due to stomach cancer.  These are conditions typically treated by a GI specialist and often require surgical intervention. It is important to monitor your digestive health and to pay attention if you are suddenly throwing up your food, suffering from severe acid reflux or bile in your throat, or having any sudden and unexplained pains. If you are, visit a doctor right away. As a local dentist office, we do not treat these conditions but can let you know of any local professionals you may want to call.

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