Gastroesophageal Reflux is a condition of burping up stomach acid which can have a very deleterious effect on the teeth. It dissolves enamel from the surface of the teeth, ultimately destroying the teeth. The acidity also increases oral cavity activity leading to many cavities in someone who ordinarily takes good care of their teeth. This is a serious issue for teeth. The teeth can be the first indicators of GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease), which is also a very serious, even life threatening, medical matter if it goes undiagnosed for many years. Following is information relevant to someone who we think may have GERD.
Guide for parents Whose Children Have Dental Signs of GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease)
When stomach acid rises into the mouth, the teeth can be affected. What we have observed in your child’s teeth are areas of acid erosion. This takes on the form of reversed architecture in that what were once cusp tips are now areas of moon cratering where parts of the teeth may appear scalloped out. These erosion areas can become quite deep and in some instances will cause fillings to become washed out, or simply will erode into unfilled teeth, exposing the nerve.
Heartburn or complaints of stomach ache (recurrent abdominal pain)
A sour or burning fluid in the throat that may contain particles of food
Frequent desire to clear the throat
Difficulty in swallowing
Blotting or stained pillows upon awakening
Rumination (regurgitation and re-chewing of food before swallowing)
Globus sensation (the feeling of having a lump in the throat when there is no lump)
1) Review resources for an in-depth understanding of GERD:
Articles on the internet (type GERD into search engine)
2) Work with your child to assist him/her to be able to accurately describe:
What it feels like when reflux occurs
How often reflux occurs
What time of day it occurs (bedtime, after meals, etc.)
Whether certain foods seem to be related to refluxing (make a list)
How long have they been aware of the reflux
Ask you child to report to you any symptoms they think could be GERD
Once you have gathered all the information you can
3) Contact your child’s pediatrician for an evaluation of the need for diagnostic tests and/or medication.
Please keep me informed of the outcome of any tests and the effect of any medication that is prescribed for your child.
P.S. If you have a suspicion this acid erosion may be related to diet patterns, check our web site for additional information under diet, beverages, sour power.