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Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease

Dear Doctor,
I'm confused! What is GERD and is it the same as Acid Reflux?


Dear James,
GERD, Gastro Esophageal Reflux Disease, is a disease in which acid from the stomach (from Greek – gastros), or occasionally bile, refluxes or flows back into the esophagus (gullet). It's the same problem that has been plaguing people for eons, and is the major cause of heartburn. Today the terms acid reflux and GERD are used interchangeably. Repeated acid reflux can damage the lining cells of the esophagus leading to ulcers, pre-cancer and ultimately cancer. Reflux all the way up into the mouth causes an awful taste — the acrid taste of vomit. The effects on the teeth can be extremely damaging causing erosion or dissolving of tooth enamel. It can be seen in young children affecting a few of the teeth on one end of the spectrum, to individuals with eating disorders like bulimia, which can affect many teeth, on the other. Dentists are also seeing a lot more erosion of teeth as a result of acid ingestion (sodas and sports drinks can be very acidic). Ever noticed how gritty your teeth feel after a coke? If you are having problems associated with reflux see your dentist as soon as possible. Be on the lookout for upcoming articles in Dear Doctor magazine on these important topics.

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