Background: Asthma medication places patients at risk of dental erosion by reducing salivary protection against extrinsic or intrinsic acids. But patterns of lesions in asthmatics may differ from patterns in non-asthmatics, because gastro-oesophageal reflux (GOR) is found in 60 per cent of asthmatics
Methods: The lesions in 44 asthma cases were compared to those of age and sex match controls with no history of asthma or medications drawn from the dental records of 423 patients referred concerning excessive tooth wear. The subjects were 70 males age range 15 to 55 years and 18 females age range 18 to 45. Anamnestic clinical data were compared between the two groups. Models of all 88 subjects were examined by light microscopy, and wear patterns were recorded on permanent central incisor, canine, premolar and first molar teeth.
Results: Clinical differences were a higher incidence of tooth hypersensitivity, xerostomia, salivary gland abnormalities, gastric complaints, and self induced vomiting in the cases. No differences were found between the cases and controls on citrus fruit and acid soft drink consumption. More occlusal erosion sites were found in cases, whereas more attrition sites were found in the controls. There were no significant differences in palatal erosion on maxillary anterior teeth found between cases and controls. Lingual erosion of the mandibular incisors, found only in GOR patients, was not observed.
Conclusions: A higher incidence of erosion was found in asthmatics. Gastro-oesophageal reflux symptoms were not associated with the sign of lingual mandibular incisor erosion. The clinical significance is that asthmatics are at risk of dental erosion from extrinsic acid, but GOR does not appear to contribute in a site-specific manner.