Don't Forget Teeth When School Starts

by Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer

New fall schedules can mean less time for dental hygiene. However, if your child has acid reflux, it is important to continue to make dental care a priority. While results from a 2011 study found that children with acid reflux are at no greater risk of tooth decay than other children, more recent research is showing a direct correlation between acid reflux and tooth erosion in children.

In the latest study, published in the Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology & Nutrition in February 2016, researchers set out to determine if there was a correlation between tooth erosion and both acid and nonacid gastroesophageal reflux (in a sample of 27 children on acid suppression medication.) Of the 27 participants, 37 percent had tooth erosion. There was a significant positive correlation between the number of acid reflux episodes and the time acid was present in the esophagus and tooth erosion. Acid reflux (versus nonacid reflux) seemed to play a large role in the tooth decay.

If your child has frequent or severe acid reflux, there are several things you can do to minimize tooth damage:First, let your dentist know that your child has reflux. The dental community is well-educated on the oral risks of acid reflux. Your dentist may suggest more frequent check-ups. He may also suggest that your child rinse with a fluoride gel. Gum chewing after a meal also may be recommended to reduce acid exposure. Some teeth whiteners should be avoided or limited as they can cause tooth erosion.

It is impossible to avoid tooth erosion completely. However, early diagnosis and prevention can minimize tooth erosion from acid reflux.

Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.
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Tracy Davenport, Ph.D.

Davenport is the founder of Using the latest scientific research, she helps people live their healthiest lives via one-on-one coaching, corporate talks, and sharing the more than 1,000 health-related articles she's authored.