Ignore Your Teeth and They'll Go Away!
First I would like to briefly introduce Dr. Schonberg, his office is in the same complex as our Millburn office at: (literally next door!)
225 Millburn avenue Ste 205 Millburn NJ 07041 973.379.2730
Also Dr. Schonberg has generously agreed to give a free consultation to any pt of Garden State Bariatrics (see the voucher on the right hand side below). Next time you are in the office be sure to ask Sharon for a voucher for your free consultation.
I will basically be interviewing Dr. Schonberg about dental health and Gastric Reflux (GERD)
Dr Bilof: Welcome Dr. Schonberg, Happy New Year and thank you for agreeing to this interview and also for the generous offer of a free consultation to any patient of Garden State Bariatrics.
Dr. Schonberg: Happy New Year to you as well and it is my pleasure to offer a free consultation to any of your patients.
Dr. Bilof: I understand you would like to talk about how Gastric Reflux (GERD) can affect a person's teeth. I have to be honest this wasn't something I was aware of myself so I am looking forward to learning something!
Dr. Schonberg: Yes, it is my understanding that Gastric Reflux is a common problem in bariatric patients so I thought it would be a good topic to discuss. The easiest way to understand how Gastric reflux affects teeth is to understand that our stomachs have a very strong acid to digest food. Now if that acid is strong enough to digest food it can damage teeth if it gets on them. When a person has reflux the acid from the stomach is refluxing up into their esophagus and even into their mouth. If it reaches their mouth it can cause damage to the teeth.
Dr. Bilof: And what specifically is the damage the acid reflux can do?
Dr Schonberg: Well, it damages the part of the tooth called the 'enamel' and once the enamel is damaged or worn away it can't be replaced.
Dr. Bilof: So, what you are saying is if the acid damages soft tissues like your tongue or lips our body can repair itself but the hard part of the tooth (the enamel) cannot.
Dr. Schonberg: Yes, that is correct. Although the enamel is a very strong substance (basically as hard as bone) once the acid dissolves it, it cannot be repaired.
Dr. Bilof: I see..once the enamel is damaged what happens then?
Dr. Schonberg: Basically, if the erosion is severe enough the "pulp" or nerve of the tooth can get exposed. If the nerve gets irritated or dies then the person will need a root canal, which in turn means the tooth will need a cap or a crown.
Dr. Bilof: Yikes!…I think I need to take a break and go brush my teeth! Is there something we can do before it becomes such a drastic problem? I think most of my patients didn't have "Get a root canal" on their New Year's resolution list!
Dr. Schonberg: Of course there is! If the problem is caught early then it can usually be fixed by a simple filling over the eroded area (similar to the filling used to treat a cavity).
Dr. Bilof: Well, I guess that is where your free consultation comes in handy! I suppose this is something that can be seen on a routine exam?
Dr. Schonberg: Yes exactly, the erosion usually starts at the gumline where the enamel is thinnest. It is easily seen on a routine exam.
Dr. Bilof: Well that is good news. If the problem is caught early it is easily treated and if not it becomes a much bigger and difficult to treat problem. Like a lot of things in medicine…early treatment is easier (and better) treatment. Well thank you again for sharing your knowledge with us and Happy New Year!
Dr. Schonberg: Happy New Year!