Eating Disorders and Oral Health

Eating disorders can be very complex, they can also have devastating affects on your overall health and your oral health. Quite often early signs of eating disorders show up in and around your mouth. Your dentist may be one of the first people to notice an eating disorder.

Different Types of Eating Disorders

  1. Anorexia is characterized by self-starvation and excessive weight loss.
  2. Bulimia is characterized by a cycle of bingeing and either, vomiting, use of laxatives or diuretics or all of the before mentioned.
  3. Binge eating is characterized by recurrent episodes of uncontrollable eating without regular use of compensatory measures to counter the effects of excessive eating.
  4. Pica is an eating disorder where a person continually ingests non-nutritive substances, such as, pencil erasers, coal, laundry starch, etc. In order for it to be an eating disorder it would need to be for at least a period of one month and the person would need to be at an age when this behavior is considered inappropriate.

How Do They Affect Your Health?

Eating disorders can rob your body of much needed minerals, vitamins, proteins and other key nutrients needed for overall good health. Without these nutrients, your gums and other soft tissue inside your mouth may bleed easily.

Frequent vomiting can affect your teeth as well. Vomiting exposes your teeth to strong stomach acid which can cause your teethes enamel to be lost. When your enamel is lost this can cause your teeth to loose it’s color, shape and length. The edges of your teeth may become too thin and can break off. It can also cause mouth sores, dry mouth, cracked lips. and bad breath.

How Do Dentists Detect Eating Disorders?

Bad breath, sensitive teeth, and tooth erosion are just a few of the signs that there may be a patient dealing with an eating disorder. Your dentist can help you get the right help for your eating disorder. They can also help teach you how to minimize the oral effects of the eating disorder.

If you have an eating disorder, seek the professional help and nutritional counseling needed. You can recover from your eating disorder.