Eating disorders are a complex condition affecting many areas of our health. In addition to threatening our nutrition and overall health, they can also impact our oral health. So much so our dentists are often the first individuals to identify the signs of an eating disorder. Raising awareness about the oral health consequences of eating disorders has become a central tenet of the Oral Health Foundation. The McCartney Dental team carries this torch to our patients, informing them about any signs and educating them on the long-term risks. Patient education is critical to ensuring successful oral health treatment, leading us to produce this guide on the oral health signs of eating disorders.
What Is An Eating Disorder And How They Impact Oral Health
The term eating disorder covers a broad range of mental health conditions that impact the normal and healthy consumption of food. Among these conditions can be found anorexia and bulimia, among others.
- Anorexia – This disorder is known as anorexia nervosa, characterized by an intense fear of weight gain. This leads those suffering from it to reduce the food and drink consumed. This is generally achieved through a militant counting of calories, driven by an attachment of their self-worth to this number. Failure to stay under their goal calories often results in their performing acts of self-punishment. Vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise, and enemas are often used to eliminate “excess” weight.
- Bulimia – This is a form of binge eating disorder wherein the sufferer will consume large quantities of food followed by purging it from their body through induced vomiting. Those with this condition often use laxatives, excessive exercise, and the aforementioned self-induced vomiting to control their weight. Bulimia can be hard to spot as many sufferers maintain an apparently healthy weight but are plagued by bloating, fatigue, irregular menstrual cycles, and constipation.
The impact of eating disorders on our oral health occurs due to factors including nutrient and vitamin deficiencies. In addition, self-induced vomiting regularly bathes the teeth in acid, weakening and eroding the enamel. Some signs of eating disorders identified by oral health include:
- Enamel erosion
- Mouth sores
- Lips that are cracked or dry
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth decay
- Mouth bruising or other injuries
- Enlarged salivary glands
These signs are generally identified through a standard dental check-up. When an eating disorder is suspected, they often will approach their patients and calmly discuss the observations they make. They may suggest using high-fluoride toothpaste or getting dental sealants to protect the teeth. However, our dental team is here to guide you and provide non-judgemental support and care. If you need help conquering your eating disorder, we can help hook you up with resources that can deliver the help you need.
See Our Team For Great Oral Health
The team at McCartney Dental is here to help you achieve your oral health goals. Call us today if you’re looking for help with preventative care or are considering restoring your smile with dental implants. We’ll schedule a consultation appointment and help produce a dental treatment plan to address your oral health concerns. Call us at (941) 423-4334 to get started with our team!
Eating disorders are a complex condition affecting many areas of our health. In addition to presenting a threat to our nutrition and overall health, they can a