Medical conditions and erosive tooth wear

Key Points

  • Reviews the most common and serious medical conditions that are linked to erosive tooth wear.

  • Indicates that there is a clear benefit to patients from the dental team picking up on the early signs of these conditions, which may be very subtle and difficult to detect.

  • Suggests that the dental examination should include the possibility of detecting signs of GORD and eating disorders and if detected appropriate referral and liaison with medical professional instigated.

  • Discusses how such detection could protect the enamel from erosive wear and more importantly may even lead to saving the patient's life.


There are many reasons why it is vital that dental professionals identify signs and symptoms that suggest that an individual's erosive tooth wear (ETW) may be linked to a broader medical problem than just poor diet. Primarily, spotting an underlying medical cause for ETW increases the likelihood that further deterioration in the individual's oral health will be prevented. However, perhaps more importantly, many of the medical conditions which are commonly related to ETW can have serious and even possibly fatal consequences if left untreated or not diagnosed. This paper reviews the nature of the most common and serious medical conditions related to ETW, such as gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD), laryngo-pharyngeal reflux (LPR) and eating disorders. This article also covers the role of the dental team in the diagnoses, prevention and management of these conditions.

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Figure 1
Figure 2: Historical ETW affecting the palatal surfaces of the upper anterior teeth.
Figure 3


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Correspondence to R. Austin.

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Moazzez, R., Austin, R. Medical conditions and erosive tooth wear. Br Dent J 224, 326–332 (2018).

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