I can understand why you may question my writing about acid reflux. What does this have to do with dentistry?
Well, I cannot say I find this to be a prevalent problem. However, I can say that I can see the effects of acid reflux in about 1 out of 300 patients. Oftentimes, patients with acid reflux have no idea they have it. Common symptoms of acid reflux include heartburn, pain in the throat, the sensation of stomach contents or acids backing up into the throat or mouth, sour or bitter taste, wet burps, nausea after eating, or stomach fullness or bloating. These symptoms of acid reflux may occur after eating a heavy meal, when bending over or lifting an object, or when laying down. For more information on acid reflux, we invite you to follow this link.
So still, why would I write about acid reflux? I already referenced my seeing the effects of acid reflux in about 1 out of 300 patients. For me, this is a guess based upon experience of practicing dentistry since 1986. Some research shows that perhaps up to 50% of the population has acid reflux. While medical doctors are those who can best diagnose acid reflux, or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), I can see its effect on teeth in a smaller prevalence.
When I see the effects on the teeth, I alert the patient every time. However, I am usually met with some doubt. Patients often have difficulty accepting the possibility of acid reflux. All I can do is to alert patients. I recommend them to consult with their primary care physician. After all, the PCP can best diagnose this. In the meantime, the erosion to the teeth can be quite damaging. The upper front teeth often get thinner, and can become more fragile. For many patients the treatment can be quite simple. So, if you are alerted to the possibility of acid reflux, please do consider seeing your physician and obtaining recommendations for its treatment. When left untreated, this complications can become more serious than the thinning of teeth.
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