Objective: To determine the relation between gastroesophageal reflux disease and dental erosion using ambulatory 24-hour esophageal pH testing.
Design: Cross-sectional observational study.
Setting: Tertiary referral center.
Patients: The dental group consisted of 12 patients with idiopathic dental erosion who were identified by dentists and screened for gastroesophageal reflux disease using 24-hour pH testing. The gastroenterology group consisted of 30 patients who had 24-hour pH testing in the esophageal laboratory and who were referred for dental evaluation (10 did not have reflux, 10 had distal reflux, and 10 had proximal reflux).
Measurements: 24-hour esophageal pH monitoring using a pH probe in the distal and proximal esophagus. Complete dental examination with particular attention to the presence and severity of dental erosion; plaque; gingival damage; and decayed, missing, and filled teeth. Analysis of saliva for pH, flow rates, buffering capacity, and calcium and phosphorus levels. Standardized questionnaire to ascertain possible causes of dental erosion and presence of reflux symptoms.
Results: Ten of the 12 patients in the dental group (83% [95% CI, 52% to 98%]) had gastroesophageal reflux on esophageal pH monitoring. Nine had distal and 7 had proximal reflux. Seven had reflux in the upright position only, 1 had reflux in the supine position only, and 2 had both upright and supine reflux. No saliva abnormalities were found. Ten patients had typical symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux, but dietary or mechanical problems that may have been causing dental erosion were not identified. In the gastroenterology group, upright reflux was seen in 5 of the 10 patients with distal reflux and in all 10 patients with proximal reflux. In addition, 40% of patients in the gastroenterology group (12 of 30) had dental erosion (4 of the 10 with distal reflux [40%], 7 of the 10 with proximal reflux (70%), and only 1 of the 10 without reflux [10%]; P = 0.02 for those with reflux compared with those without reflux). The cumulative dental erosion score correlated with proximal upright reflux when all 24 study patients with erosion were analyzed (r = 0.55 [P < 0.01]); this correlation was even stronger in the subgroup of 12 patients with abnormal amounts of proximal upright reflux (r = 0.84 [P = 0.001]).
Conclusion: Dental erosion is a common finding in patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease and should be considered an atypical manifestation of this disease.