Nexium users should consider biologically based care for dental erosion from GERD



People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often take Nexium to combat their heartburn and acid reflux symptoms.

People with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) often take Nexium to combat their heartburn and acid reflux symptoms. GERD is a digestive disease whereby the esophageal sphincter - a muscle at the bottom of the esophagus that allows food to pass into the stomach - weakens or relaxes and cause stomach acid and sometimes bile to flow back up the esophagus.

GERD can be caused by many things, including lifestyle choices like smoking and alcohol use, eating highly acid, minty or fatty foods, certain medications and autoimmune conditions like scleroderma. People with GERD often have heartburn, burning or the feeling of a lump in the throat, acid reflux, difficulty swallowing, chest pain and dry cough. These symptoms can range from mild to severe. Nexium is a proton pump inhibitor (PPI) that can help treat GERD by reducing acid in the stomach, giving the esophagus a chance to heal.

Dental erosion from GERD
Sometimes the long-term effects of acid reflux from GERD cause dental erosion. According to a study published in the July 2013 edition of the Journal of Dentistry and Oral Hygiene by researchers from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences, people with GERD are more likely to be at risk for dental erosion than are healthy people. Though the study was small, comprising only 140 patients in mid-adulthood, the findings were significant.

After dental examinations and endoscopy by a gastroenterologist, 22 percent of those with GERD had dental erosion, while only 7 percent of healthy subjects were found to have erosion.

Biologically based approaches to dental erosion
A new study from researchers at King's College suggests that biologically based restorative treatments are the best options for treating patients with dental erosion from GERD. The study, published in the International Journal of Dentistry in 2012 makes a strong case for dentists shifting from traditional dental erosion treatments to biologically based approaches, which are less destructive of the remaining tooth and pulp.

Traditionally, dentists treat erosion from GERD by using porcelain and bridges, which often requires removing much of the tooth. When these artificial structures are damaged, they require a significant amount of work to repair. Researchers suggest using resin composite to fix dental erosion - it is biologically sound because it leaves much of the remaining tooth intact and chips are easier to fix. After talking with patients, the researchers found that patients prefer biologically based resin composite.