Special Issues
March 2009
Volume 5, Issue 3


by Martha Ann Keels DDS PhD

The last decade has seen increasing investigations into acid erosion and its impact on the dental environment.

Determining the evidence for acid erosion in children however - in terms of both the impact on primary and permanent teeth - has been much harder. Studies in many countries around the world suggest that this is a growing area of interest, however data in the US has been relatively sparse, particularly in children.

Nonetheless, emerging data suggest that the issue of acid erosion continues to grow. The increase in a diet high in acidic content, as well as the growth in pediatric prevalence of gastro-esophageal reflux disorder (GERD), with both having the potential for erosive effects on the dentition, doubly warrant further investigation.

With the firm belief that acid erosion in primary teeth is related to the problem in permanent teeth, the challenge for dental professionals is three-fold:

  • how can we better understand this condition - its true prevalence, the right diagnostic tools and intervention techniques
  • how can we help parents to adopt the right behaviors to effectively minimize the impact on acid erosion in their children's teeth
  • how can we help the medical profession in recognizing that severe acid erosion may be a sign of GERD or bulimia.

This report, sponsored by GSK, is a timely summary for pediatric and general dentists on the condition, its prevalence in the US and the rest of the world and causative factors.

This is just the start of the journey however. Over the coming years, we need to understand more about our role in terms of active intervention and counseling to minimize the impact of acid erosion going forward. The research community will no doubt rise to this challenge. As practicing professionals however we also have a role to play - getting involved in helping our communities understand acid erosion, make appropriate and informed choices and in terms of early intervention - such that we can delay the onset of this increasingly important condition.

About the Author

Martha Ann Keels DDS PhD
Division Chief, Pediatric Dentistry
Assistant Professor
Departments of Surgery and Pediatrics
Duke University Medical Center

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