Most prevalent in teens and young adult women, Eating Disorders negatively affect an individual’s overall quality of life. People suffering from these disorders are often able to hide it from others. Yet, due to the effect that they have on oral health, dentists are likely the first to spot the oral manifestations accompanying eating disorders.
Without proper nutrition, gum tissues inside the mouth will begin to bleed easily. In turn, inflammation in the saliva glands may lead to dry mouth. In eating disorders that are characterized by frequent vomiting, the palate will become red and irritated. Gastric acids work to erode the tooth’s enamel, particularly on the biting surfaces of back teeth and the insides of the front teeth. The result is teeth that are rounded, soft, thin, and discolored. Dentists also note that in patients with previous fillings, the amalgam begins to erode or separate.
Common Eating Disorders
Anorexia: In an attempt to reach a perfect body weight, individuals will starve themselves, exercise excessively, or eat excessively. Consuming many calories at once, the person will then anxiously try to get rid of them by “throwing up.”
Bulimia: Characterized by binge eating followed by throwing up (purging), individuals experience fear over gaining weight and becoming what they deem as “fat.” A person may go through a series of binging and purging daily or weekly.
Compulsive Overeating: Affecting both men and women, these individuals are often called “food addicts.” Rather than purging to get rid of calories, a person may feel intense guilt, leading them to overeat again.
With research revealing that nearly 10 million Americans currently suffer from an eating disorder, oral health education is vital. You should know–if tooth erosion is diagnosed early, treatment might be as simple as a fluoride rinse. However, with time, the effects of eating disorders on oral health will be more difficult to treat and reverse.
At Grateful Dental, we welcome patients with a caring and compassionate approach. When it comes to eating disorders, we understand that they arise from a variety of issues-both physical, emotional, and social. With discretion, we can help you obtain better oral health and encourage you along the way. Call us today.