As you are probably aware, eating disorders are destructive to overall body health. What you may not be aware of are the serious complications for dental health. The problem is a sensitive one because the sufferer has a skewed idea of their body image, and cannot see the damage they are doing to themselves, while it is painfully obvious to those who care for them. This sensitive topic needs to be approached with some delicacy, but needs to be discussed nonetheless.
Many times, the dentist is the first doctor to discover and diagnose an eating disorder in a patient during a routine dental exam. They are able to see the physical changes to the mouth, teeth, and gums as signs of malnutrition. Detecting these changes, dentists are first to see the signs of anorexia and bulimia because of the appearance of several other oral health issues that inevitably accompany them.
A major sign, and the most damaging aspect of eating disorders is the erosion of tooth enamel from frequent vomiting—the hallmark of anorexia and bulimia. Strong stomach acids constantly coming up in the mouth will quickly take off the protective enamel that coats the teeth, wearing away the beneficial shielding and exposing the tooth dentin to bacteria and decay. It can also cause the teeth to become yellowed.
As you or a loved one cope with an eating disorder, know that there are steps you can take to reduce the damage it can cause to your teeth. As your dentist, we want you to know that we are here for you. Confide in us. We will never judge you and will always maintain full doctor-patient confidentiality.
If you’d like more education about eating disorders and your dental health, call our helpful team at Louisiana Dental Center. Phone: (225) 286-4800, or come by our office in Zachary, Louisiana.