Erosion is the breakdown of tooth structure by chemical means. Erosion is often seen in individuals with bulimia or GERD as the acid from the stomach is brought to the oral cavity. As demonstrated earlier, many individuals with autism have digestive disorders. If upon clinical examination erosion is present, be sure to discuss this with parents/caregiver as this may be the only sign the patient has possible digestive disorders. When individuals are nonverbal or do not communicate clearly, it can be very difficult to recognize indigestion, stomach pain, etc. The dental practitioner may be the first to alert the family to a problem with the digestive tract and play a crucial role in helping the individual improve their oral and systemic health (Figures 8 and 9).
Figure 8. Teeth damaged by erosion.
Figure 9. Teeth damaged by bulimia.
Images courtesy of Dr. Brian McKay