Many people hide eating disorders from family and friends. Many others don’t even realize they have a problem. One person who can find the truth quickly is the sufferer’s dentist. In this article, we explain this important link between eating disorders and oral health.
Common Eating Disorders
According to The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. The three most common disorders are:
- anorexia nervosa: an abnormally low body weight, intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of body weight.
- bulimia nervosa: commonly known as “binging and purging.”
- binge-eating: the frequent consumption of large amounts of food accompanied by a feeling of inability to stop.
How Eating Disorders Affect Someone’s Oral Health
Sufferers of bulimia vomit to purge their bodies of food and this habitual act brings stomach acids up through the mouth. In fact, 89% of bulimic patients show signs of the tooth erosion usually associated with regurgitation, including:
- Erosion of the upper front teeth enamel
- Thinning and chipping
Sufferers of anorexia have low vitamin levels. This often becomes first apparent in his/her mouth. They have teeth that look worn and almost translucent. Their mouths are often dry. They have cracked lips. And their gums bleed very easily.
How We Can Help
Experts say one of the best ways to combat an eating disorder is by catching it before the condition does serious bodily damage. Keeping to a regular checkup schedule is a great way to have warning signs identified and get recommendations for help.
Our office wants every one of our patients to lead a healthy, happy life. If you confide to us about your disorder, we will offer nutrition and oral health advice to help address the dental problems. We can also recommend proper therapy channels as well as ways to minimize the damaging effects of stomach acid on teeth.