Eating Disorders and Oral Health Problems

What oral health problems are associated with eating disorders?

Anorexia and bulimia can damage your teeth in several ways.

A bulimic individual engages in a cycle of binge eating and vomiting. The stomach acids in the vomit pass through the mouth and can erode tooth enamel. This process causes loss of tooth tissue and discolouration.

Since teeth appear worn and yellow, a dentist may be the first to notice signs of this eating disorder. Cosmetic dentistry can help correct deteriorated tooth enamel.

In anorexia, semi-starvation deprives the body of the nutrients it needs. Osteoporosis can develop, weakening the bones in the jaw that support the teeth.

In both diseases, it is critical to treat the underlying causes that lead to anorexia and bulimia as well as the dental complications resulting from them. While a dentist can correct the deteriorated tooth enamel, he or she cannot treat the actual eating disorder. Should you have an eating disorder, or think you might, talk to your doctor.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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ANOREXIA/BULIMIA

Definition

Anorexia is an eating disorder where a person has a fear of weight gain and a compromised view of their body size and shape. They can’t maintain a normal body weight and they go into semi-starvation, which deprives the body of the nutrients it needs. Osteoporosis can develop as a result of anorexia, weakening the bones in the jaw that support the teeth, which can have an effect on possible to tooth loss.

Bulimia is an eating disorder where a person engages in a cycle of binge eating (large amounts of food) and purging (vomiting, use of laxatives, excessive exercising and fasting) several times a week. The stomach acids in the vomit pass through the mouth and can erode tooth enamel, causing tooth erosion, sensitivity and discolouration.

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