Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD, is a series of problems that can affect your stomach, your stomach's lining and your teeth. Although GERD is somewhat less common in children than adults, you should be very cautious to make sure your children do not exhibit the symptoms of GERD. Problems with your child's teeth as a result of GERD can become a very serious issue if left untreated. Throughout the course of this brief article, you will learn how to adequately define GERD, how to know if your child has GERD, how GERD damages teeth, and finally, the available treatments for GERD.
What Is GERD?
GERD is a series of disorders that affects various sections of a person's stomach. Specifically, it affects the Lower Esophageal Sphincter (LES), which is a series of muscles that connects the esophagus with the stomach.
GERD can create a series of problems for a person who suffers from it, including heartburn and acid indigestion. During the normal digestive process, the LES opens up to allow food to pass from your esophagus to your stomach. However, for a person suffering from GERD, this muscle remains tight and restricted. It basically functions in a way that does not allow food to adequately pass from their esophagus to their stomach.
How Do I Know If My Child Has GERD?
It is important to remain vigilant and look for signs and symptoms of GERD in your child. There are several things for which you should be on the lookout. For example, persistent and relatively frequent vomiting and persistent and relatively frequent coughing, especially a cough that has taken on a whooping characteristic may be indicative of GERD.
A refusal to eat due to difficulty swallowing or because of pain that is experienced after eating. Heartburn, abdominal pain, and severe gas are also all signs that your children may be suffering from GERD. There may be more severe symptoms that are coupled with GERD, but it is unknown if GERD is the cause of these phenomena, such as recurrent pneumonia and stunted growth.
How Does GERD Damage Teeth?
About half of individuals who suffer from GERD will receive damage to GERD due to the disease itself. If your child suffers from GERD, please be sure to watch his or her teeth, and remember that a visit to a pediatric dentist's office may be a possibility that you should entertain. Those who suffer from GERD often times suffer from acid reflux, which causes acidic gas to escape from the LES through the mouth, causing acidic burps and light vomiting. This acidic gas can actually cause wear and tear on the teeth. Erosion is quite common, which can cause sharp, pitted teeth or occasionally dull, flattened teeth.
Treatments For GERD
Treatment for GERD usually begins at the level of an over the counter remedy. It's best to start with some antacids to see if they can calm your stomach's nerves and allow the LES muscle to relax so that food may more easily travel through your child's esophagus. If GERD is persistent or overly strong, creating a condition for your child that may be untenable at best, it is recommended that you ask your physician about strong prescription drugs. H-2 receptor blockers and and proton pump inhibitors are likely the things that your doctor recommends.
Although it is a difficult thing for your child to experience, GERD is not a series of problems that is incredibly difficult to deal with. Hopefully, this brief article has given you some insight on how to deal with the problem, as well as how the problem can saliently affect your child's teeth.