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17 Jan
eating disorder treatment

How eating disorders can affect your oral health

Eating disorders:

Eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder all have negative effects on the mouth, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and dental professionals are frequently among the first to spot potential red flags.

Several studies have found that eating disorders can have an impact on oral health. In this blog post, we will look at the main symptoms of each condition, how they can affect your oral health, and how your dental team can assist you. 

What exactly is anorexia?

  • People suffering from anorexia nervosa restrict their food and drink intake because they are afraid of gaining weight.
  • Many anorexics base their self-worth on their calorie intake and punish themselves for eating too much or the “wrong types” of foods.
  • In addition to calorie restriction, some people with anorexia will try to lose excess calories and weight through exercise, vomiting, taking laxatives, or using enemas.

What exactly is bulimia?

  • Bulimia nervosa is a binge eating disorder that is diagnosed based on the sufferer’s binge-purge patterns.
  • To meet the criteria for a bulimia diagnosis, you must binge (consuming an excessive amount of calories in one sitting) and purge (expelling food/calories through excessive exercise, taking laxatives, or forcing yourself to vomit) on a regular basis.
  • Specific binge-purge patterns differ between sufferers, but because many people with bulimia are of normal weight, symptoms can often go unnoticed.
  • Bulimia patients may also experience fatigue, bloating and/or constipation, abdominal pain, and irregular menstrual cycles.

What exactly is a binge eating disorder?

  • Binge eaters were previously labeled as food addicts, but we now have a better understanding of the condition.
  • Binge eaters frequently consume large amounts of food and/or drink without feeling in control of their actions.
  • Binge eaters are not “overindulging” in foods or simply eating large portions; these are unpleasant experiences that frequently cause distress and embarrassment for sufferers.
  • A binge eating episode is defined as eating faster than usual, eating until you are uncomfortably full, eating large amounts of food when you are not hungry, eating alone due to embarrassment at the amount eaten, and feelings of disgust, shame, or guilt during/after the binge.
  • Those suffering from binge eating disorder, unlike those suffering from bulimia, will not purge after a binge.

How can eating disorders affect your oral health? 

All of these eating disorders have a negative impact on the bodies of those who suffer from them and should be treated as serious medical conditions. Potentially harmful effects of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can cause the body to shut down and fail to function properly, which will manifest in the mouth.

Oral manifestations of eating disorders include:
  • Enamel deterioration
  • The mouth is parched.
  • Salivary gland enlargement
  • Lips that are cracked or dry
  • Sores in the mouth
  • decay of the teeth
  • Teeth that are sensitive
  • Bruising and/or mouth injuries
  • Those who vomit to purge can erode tooth enamel due to prolonged contact with stomach acid.
How can the dental team assist in the detection of eating disorders? 

Dentists, dental hygienists, therapists, and dental nurses are well-positioned to detect early signs of eating disorders.

  • During your dental check-up, they examine the hard and soft tissues of your mouth for signs of tooth erosion and possible mouth injuries caused by forcing objects into your mouth to make you vomit.
  • In addition to erosion caused by stomach acid, they will be able to detect tooth decay caused by excessive sugar consumption and signs of nutrient deficiencies.
  • If they suspect you have an eating disorder, they will talk you through the clinical signs they see in your mouth and, if necessary, recommend a high-fluoride toothpaste or varnish to protect your teeth from decay.
  • The more open and honest you are with your dental team, the better they can assist you.
  • Your dental team can be relied on to assist you and will not pass judgment on any symptoms you are experiencing.
Please contact us at Partha Dental for more information and better oral healthcare.
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