Eating disorders are not an uncommon problem today.
In fact, about 35 million men and women are affected with eating disorders in the United States alone.
Disorders like bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa and other problems do not only affect your body but your oral health as well.
Did you know that dentists can easily detect if you have an eating disorder?
According to a newsmagazine published by the Academy of General Dentistry, dentists are the first ones who recognize a person with eating disorder because of the manifested symptoms.
What are the common eating disorders?
There are two main types of eating disorders today: anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia is a disorder when one starves themselves and/or vomits food intake because of the direct consequence of the extreme fear of weight gain. Bulimia nervosa is a condition when a person undergoes excessive eating but induces food purging afterwards.
The consequences of eating disorders
Eating disorder is a disease where it affects vital organs if not detected in the long run. This is because the body does not receive enough nutrients, proteins and minerals to maintain a healthy body. Weight loss is imminent, but along with weight loss is lessened muscle mass, weakened immune system and your oral health is greatly affected.
In regards to oral health, anorexia and bulimia can destroy teeth structure and can weaken the teeth enamel. The gastric acids from the stomach pass through your mouth when vomiting and these acids can decrease the teeth enamel.
Your weakened teeth are prone to breaking, and color change in your teeth. Dentists, in many eating disorder cases, also notice mouth and throat tenderness. And in severe cases, weakening of the jaw bone can also happen as a result of osteoporosis as the bones do not receive the necessary nutrients to strengthen your bones.
Symptoms of eating disorders
- Dry mouth
- Bleeding gums
- Cracked lips
- Tender throat and mouth
- Bad breath
- Worn teeth that appears to be translucent
- Sensitive teeth
- Mouth sores
More than your oral health, it is very important to address any eating disorder. It is quite alarming because more and people encounter this problem due to the pressure of media and friends to look and feel a certain way. It’s important to seek professional treatment for eating disorders and to establish open communication with professionals, family and friends. More importantly, dentists do not tolerate tooth restoration for individuals with eating problems if professional help is not sought.
How to address the problem
Poor oral health can lessen self-esteem resulting in an eating disorder. Some of the suggested good habits include:
- Rinsing with high fluoride content mouth wash after purging or vomiting.
- Avoid brushing your teeth immediately after a vomiting episode because it can cause the enamel to erode quickly.
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste- prescribed by dentists to avoid gum problems and enamel erosion
- Wearing of temporary mouth guard to protect your teeth from having an impact with the acid once you vomit.
- Teeth restoration once eating disorder is treated