Eating Disorders & Dental Health 

Eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia are psychological conditions often affecting one’s physical and mental health. While the discussions about these eating disorders are quite open in the professional world, how these conditions affect dental health is not commonly discussed. Since their conditions and dental health both have eating habits in common it is extremely important to note how eating disorders can affect dental health.

While the state of the mouth may not be the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the term eating disorder, people must be aware of the risks. People who suffer from eating disorders often present with a variety of oral conditions depending on whether they are suffering from bulimia or anorexia. 

What’s The Difference Between The Two?

Bulimia nervosa is characterised by a condition in which the patient has altered eating patterns also referred to as binge eating. Such people are unable to get proper nutrition due to the type of food they consume regularly. 

Anorexia nervosa on the other hand is characterised by episodes of purging after a meal. Vomiting is one of the ways purging is done, either manually with a finger down the throat or by taking something that will cause one to throw up.

 

How do Eating Disorders Cause Dental Problems?

While eating disorders can cause temporary or permanent damage to the teeth and oral cavity – the majority of these problems stem from Self-starvation, bingeing and purging.

Deficiency of calcium, iron, and vitamin D, as well as lack of other nutrients, is often the cause of poor oral hygiene.

Another way how eating problems can lead to poor hygiene is due to acid reflux, regurgitation and vomiting. The acid produced in the stomach gets exposed to the oral cavity resulting in weak enamel.

Take a deep look into how eating disorders can affect oral conditions. 

Lack Of Vitamin D 

Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium. It is potent vitamin to maintain teeth and bones and also fight gum diseases.

Dry Mouth

Constant vomiting can put extra pressure on the salivary glands resulting in swelling of the glands and decreased saliva production. Reduced saliva leads to chronic dry mouth and makes it hard to neutralise the acid in the oral cavity. This leads to an increased risk of infections, cavities and tooth loss.

Insufficient Calcium 

Lack of calcium can cause teeth to loosen and possibly fall out. If you don’t get enough calcium from your diet or supplements, your body will draw it from your bones and teeth. Not having enough calcium can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Acidity & Reflux 

Binge eating can cause excess stomach acid. When acid backs up into the esophagus, it causes heartburn. If stomach acid reaches the mouth, it can burn the oral tissues and eat away at your teeth. 

Meanwhile, vomiting exposes teeth to the harsh acid from the stomach. Repeated vomiting leads to stomach acid repeatedly flowing over the teeth and wearing away enamel. The erosion is often so bad that the enamel appears translucent, which increases the risk of tooth decay. Extensive tooth brushing or rinsing after vomiting can also contribute to tooth decay.

Eating disorders arise from a variety of physical, emotional and social issues all of which need to be addressed to help prevent and treat these disorders. Family and friends can help by setting good examples about eating and offering positive comments about healthy eating practices.



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