Eating Disorder and Oral Health

Eating Disorder and Oral Health

Eating disorder is especially common amongst teenage girls and young women, and its effects can be life threatening. Dentists are typically the first ones to notice such disorders as self-induced vomiting has considerable effects on the condition of your teeth. Anorexia nervosa (self-induced starvation) and bulimia nervosa (self-induced vomiting) impact on the teeth is quiet glaring and easily recognizable for the dentists.

Over 90% of those suffering from bulimia experience tooth erosion. This due to the acid emitted by the stomach, which comes as part of the expulsion and can causes severe erosion of tooth enamel. Teeth devoid of tooth enamel are extremely fragile and prone to chipping, fracturing, and one may experience hot/cold sensations when the tooth comes into to contact with the food you eat.

Drinking soda, energy drinks, and other carbonated drinks can also damage the tooth enamel, but enamel erosion due to acid is evident on the front teeth and tongue sides as well as biting edges. Bottom teeth, however, are protected because of the tongue’s natural position at the time of vomiting, as the tongue drapes over the bottom teeth.

Enamel cannot be replaced once lost, but restorative measures such as crowns and veneers can help restore complete functionality. Treatment varies with the severity of the case and the best course of action depends on the frequency with which the subject engaged in binge-purge behavior.

For short-term protection, it is best that you do not brush your teeth immediately after vomiting as it can scrape off more of the enamel, which will now be softened due to exposure to acid. The best practice is to rinse your mouth with a mixture of baking soda and water, which helps to neutralize the acid. Furthermore, you can use sodium fluoride mouth-rinse, which can help strengthen the enamel.

Enamel erosion is one of the surefire signs for hygienists and dentists, but it is not the only sign that suggests a person maybe suffering from an eating disorder. Salivary glands become enlarged due to excessive purging, which makes the facial area under your ears appear fluffier than usual. Additional signs include redness in your palette and the back of your tongue.

Nearly 20% of all anorexics experience tooth erosion, but the overall health hazards associated with anorexia are extremely damaging towards your general health and nutritional intake.