Dental erosion caused by silent gastroesophageal reflux disease

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Background. Gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, is a relatively common condition, in which stomach acid may be refluxed up through the esophagus and into the oral cavity, resulting in enamel erosion. Symptoms such as belching, unexplained sour taste and heartburn usually alert the patient to the condition. In silent GERD, however, these symptoms do not occur, and enamel erosion of the posterior dentition may be the first indication of GERD. Case Description. A 30-year-old man came to a dental clinic with enamel erosion on the occlusal surfaces of his posterior teeth and the palatal surfaces of his maxillary anterior teeth. He reported no history of gastrointestinal disease or heartburn. Clinical Implications. Enamel erosion may be a clinical sign of silent GERD that allows the dentist to make the initial diagnosis. Referral to a physician or gastroenterologist is necessary to define the diagnosis; however, dental expertise may be essential in distinguishing between differential diagnoses such as bulimia, attrition and abrasion. Successful treatment of this medical condition is necessary before dental rehabilitation can be initiated successfully.

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