The Impact of Eating Disorders on Teeth

Friday, March 28th, 2014, 7:57 pm

Eating disorders such as bulimia take a serious toll on teeth, changing their appearance and health. Studies have shown that the average onset age of an eating disorder is 16, and that the length of time that the person typically experiences the disorder is approximately four years.

The disorder is most predominant among young women, with nearly 10 million women affected by it in the United States alone. However, men also suffer from the disorder, with 1 million men affected by it annually, according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).

Along with annual physicals, dental exams play an important role in catching and identifying the disorder. Because so many of the patients suffering from eating disorders are teen girls, dentists are often the first notice that there is a problem. This is because disorders such as bulimia result in side effects that include distinct signs of dental decay and erosion.

Common signs of eating disorders include the erosion of tooth enamel and tooth sensitivity caused by the thinning of enamel. In eating disorders such as bulimia or binging and purging, when the patient forces him or herself to throw up, the mouth is subjected to the stomach’s erosive acids and fluids.

This exposure to stomach acids negatively affects sensitive gum tissue and corrodes tooth enamel. The worst of this damage often occurs along the back side of the upper front teeth. Damage from purging also causes dental decay, which increases the patient’s risk of having cavities, fillings or missing teeth.

Patients with eating disorders may also suffer from gingival bleeding, gum inflammation, sores in the soft tissue and erosive lesions on the surface of the teeth. Other tell-tale signs can include a tender mouth, throat and salivary glands, dry mouth, teeth than look worn and have areas that are nearly translucent in coloring, and bad breath.

If parents are concerned about whether their teen has an eating disorder, they can ask their dentist to analyze and look for these signs during a dental exam, cleaning or checkup. Examining and addressing early dental signs of an eating disorder can help to stop dental issues from becoming worse and prevent further tooth decay.


Dental Health in Toccoa

If you would like to learn more about oral health, annual dental check ups or any of the dental treatments that the Wilbanks Smile Center offers, contact us today and schedule your consultation. Our offices are located in Toccoa, GA, and we can be contacted at 706-886-9439. We look forward to hearing from you.

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Category: Dental check ups, Enamel Erosion, gum disease, Mouth Health, oral health, periodontal disease

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