Eating Disorders and Oral Health

eating disorderAffecting nearly 10 million Americans, eating disorders are dangerous diseases that can also lead to some serious health concerns. Whether anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating, every eating disorder increases the chance of heart failure, decreases bone density, and causes muscle loss. At my Indianapolis dental office, we want to inform our neighbors of some of the oral health problems also associated with eating disorders.

Teeth and Eating Disorders

When someone has an eating disorder, they’re not getting all of the necessary nutrients the body needs to function properly. This includes your mouth. Oftentimes an eating disorder can cause salivary glands to produce less saliva, leading to dry mouth. Dry mouth is linked to bad breath, decay, and gum disease. A lack of crucial nutrients can also cause sores to develop. These often bleed easily and can be quite painful.

If vomiting is a symptom, a whole host of other concerns arise. The constant exposure to stomach acid can erode enamel and even cause teeth to change color or become translucent. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, 89% of bulimics experience enamel erosion caused by overexposure to stomach acid.  

Signs & Symptoms

Many times a dentist in Indianapolis may the first to suspect an eating disorder. This is because many signs first show in the mouth, including:

  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Tooth decay
  • Sensitivity

What You Can Do to Protect Your Teeth

When battling a disease like an eating disorder, proper medical attention is always the first step. Trusted professionals can help both diagnose the problem and fix it. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to keep your smile protected.

  • Continue to brush and floss like normal, brushing twice a day and flossing once.
  • If vomit is a factor, do not brush immediately after it happens. Instead, rinse with water.
  • Continue to visit your dentist as often as recommended.

If you have an eating disorder, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. And while you’re working on beating the disease, give my Indianapolis dental office a call and schedule an appointment. We can help protect your mouth from the damaging effects of eating disorders and work with you throughout the healing process.

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