How Eating Disorders Affect Your Teeth 

Eating disorders do affect your teeth!

Eating disorders are not only dangerous to your overall health, but they also will have very negative effects on your teeth and oral health. In addition to being extremely damaging to the body at large, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa can cause massive damage to your teeth.

The first step in dealing with these eating disorders is to understand them. Bulimia, a compulsive disorder, is marked by daily (or even during every meal) instances of overeating, which is followed by self-induced vomiting. This process is known as binging and purging. Anorexia Nervosa meanwhile is marked by a severe, sometimes crippling fear of putting on weight, the inability to maintain a healthy body weight, intentional starvation stemming from an intense desire to remain as thin as possible, and in some cases, self-induced vomiting (this is different from bulimia because of the lack of overeating).

Anorexia and Bulimia both have similar results. The first and most obvious problem for sufferers is the serious and rapid loss of weight and body mass. Victims become depleted of the fundamental vitamins, nutrients, and proteins that the body needs to grow and remain strong. Muscles deteriorate, and bone mass lowers. Oral health is another casualty of these destructive conditions. In the worse cases, the final consequence of either disorder can be death. The significance and severity of both anorexia and bulimia cannot be overemphasized.

Self-induced vomiting is especially problematic for the teeth, specifically. Over time, it causes tooth degradation, which will lead to rotting and gingival issues. This is caused by effects the stomach acid released by the digestive system. This powerful acid breaks down food, but sadly, it does not exactly differentiate between “food” and “teeth.” As a result, tooth enamel erodes. Tooth enamel is the film that protects the teeth from typical wear and tear and from other adverse factors.

Eating disorders make the throat and mouth sensitive. A person with anorexia tries to avoid food in general and as a result, can experience muscle atrophy. Although typically individuals with these eating disorders try to hide them, the damage should be clear to a medical professional. If one has an eating disorder, it’s very unlikely, in fact nearly impossible, that their dentist won’t figure it out. Some of the clues that might give it away would be mouth sores, very sensitive teeth, cracked lips, dry mouth and extremely tender saliva glands. Another consequence specific to bulimia is foul-smelling breath. This is because vomited food sticks in the mouth are attracting bad-smelling bacteria.

There are ways to mitigate the dental health consequences of eating disorders. Those with bulimia should hold off on brushing just after vomiting. Instead, they should use a fluoride solution as a rinse to quiet the effects of stomach acid. Indeed, using fluoride is a must for anyone with bulimia or anorexia.

While on the outside it may appear that those suffering from eating disorders are only doing it for attention, but it is, in reality, a cry for help. Understanding and curing an eating disorder takes time, wise counsel and dedication from everyone involved. A good dentist will not only recognize the symptoms, but also communicate their concern in a compassionate, non-judging manner.

Anorexia and Bulimia are psychological issues that do need support and love, but ultimately it’s the sufferer who must let go of their behavior. Individuals that are recovering from an eating disorder will still have a difficult road ahead. Dental issues will have to be dealt with, but a reputable cosmetic dentist, such as Dr. Halina Montano in Boca Raton, can offer several services to restore dental health and beautiful teeth.

If you or anyone you know are suffering from anorexia or bulimia, please seek medical help! You will find that there are thousands and thousands of others who suffer with this complex situation just like you do. Reach out for the help you need from your medical doctor, psychologist and your dentist. Know that healing will take time, energy and effort and give yourself a chance to understand and mend without continually judging yourself.

If you are looking for a top-notch cosmetic dentist, Dr. Halina Montano is the one for you! Dr. Montano blends her professional excellence with courtesy and compassion, which is a winning combination! Take action today by calling 561-232-2070 and scheduling an appointment. You’ll be glad you did!