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News / May 8, 2009

Children with acid reflux more likely to have poor dental health

by Guy Hiscott

Children who have symptoms of chronic acid reflux are significantly more likely to have dental erosions than those without reflux symptoms, according to a new study led by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco.

The study, which is the first to examine the relationship between acid reflux and dental health in paediatric patients, was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in Baltimore, US.

The research is also among the first to find a conclusive link between chronic acid reflux and dental erosions in any age group, as previous studies have produced inconsistent results, according to Melvin Heyman, MD, chief of paediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at UCSF Children’s Hospital and the study’s senior author.

‘These findings demonstrate that we really need to start looking for dental erosions in paediatric patients with chronic acid reflux and integrate proper dental care into their treatment regimens,’ said Dr Heyman.

Researchers from UCSF Children’s Hospital and the UCSF School of Dentistry compared the dental health of young patients aged nine to 17 years old who had symptoms consistent with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) with a group of healthy controls who had no symptoms and were in the same age group. They found that children with GERD were almost six times more likely to have substantially eroded teeth than children without reflux.

Ann Clark, BS, a research assistant in Dr Heyman’s laboratory and co-author, said: ‘Having shown that there is a positive correlation between GERD and dental erosions, we must now try to determine exactly what causes children with reflux to develop these erosions.’