Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) is the passage of gastric (stomach) contents into the esophagus, a condition which affects an estimated 10% of the US population. The most definitive tool for diagnosing GERD is a 24-hour pH monitoring of the esophagus, while the most widely accepted criteria for diagnosis of GERD is the occurrence of heartburn two or more times per week. But not everyone with GERD has the symptoms of heartburn. In fact, you may have GERD and not even know it. GERD can be the result of a faulty lower esophageal sphincter muscle, increased abdominal pressure which results in improper acid removal by esophageal muscles, or an overproduction of stomach acid.
Common Symptoms in Adults
• Acid taste
• Stomach ache/heartburn
• Sore throat
• Hoarseness of voice
• Choking spells/persistent cough
• Excess salivating
• Belching/sense of lump in the throat
• Chronic sinus problems
Common Symptoms in Children
• Inability to gain weight
• Asthma (not controlled by meds)
• Recurrent pneumonia
The most harmful risks associated with untreated GERD include erosion of teeth and esophageal cancer. Dental erosion is defined as irreversible loss of tooth structure by a chemical process not involving bacterial action. The outer enamel surface of teeth dissolves as a result of the introduction of gastric acid into the mouth. This erosion can further be promoted by the consumption of dietary acids such as fruits/juices and soda. The loss of enamel results in the exposure of the softer, more caries prone dentin layer. Patients with advanced erosion may also experience increased sensitivity to temperature and chewing, often requiring extensive restorative therapy. Additional symptoms of erosion are changes in bite, formation of spaces between teeth, and drifting and tipping of teeth. Patients with acid erosion are encouraged to begin daily fluoride rinses and to use prescription fluoride toothpaste to help re-mineralize enamel surfaces and impede further erosion.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms consistent with GERD, I encourage you to contact your physician. As is true with all chronic diseases, the sooner the diagnosis and treatment, the better.
Contact Us Today!
Dr. Schweifler and our Los Altos Dentistry team are committed to providing exceptional care and empowering our patients with information about their dental health. Please take advantage of Dr. Schweifler’s offer for a free consultation regarding how we can help you if you are having acid reflux. If you have any questions about our services, or would like to schedule an appointment, we invite you to give us a call at 650-941-2166 for a complimentary consultation. The outstanding experience of our Los Altos Dentist, Dr. Schweifler, and the skills of our staff have helped us in successfully treating oral problems in our patients who visit us from different parts of Los Altos, Palo Alto, San Jose, Sunnyvale, Cupertino, Saratoga, Mountain View, and surrounding areas.