GERD a Widespread Problem in the United States
Anybody watching television recently cannot help but notice the overwhelming number of commercials promoting various forms of stomach acid reducers. Acid reflux, or Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease (GERD) is a widespread problem in the United States. We are recognized as "Heartburn Nation" among physicians.
Risks Associated with GERD/Acid Reflux
Besides the irritating heartburn that accompanies GERD, patients suffering from GERD are at increased risk of esophageal cancer. That is the most serious medical complication of GERD. However, GERD also puts oral soft tissues and teeth at risk. Teeth in particular exhibit the effects of GERD due to being subjected to often hours a day of being bathed in low pH stomach acids. If you have ever felt your teeth etched after eating a high acid food containing vinegar you will have an appreciation for what damage acids can do if left in contact with your teeth for hours.
Dental Pathology Associated with GERD/Acid Reflux
Dentists will observe teeth that are eroded and shortened with signs of excessive wear in patients with uncontrolled GERD. Many of these patients will need extensive dental restorative work including fillings and full coverage crowns to restore the lost tooth enamel. Prescription fluoride toothpastes and varnishes will be utilized to harden the remaining enamel, and a timely referral to a physician to control the GERD will be made to prevent further tooth destruction and diminish the risk of esophageal cancer.