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Can Eating Disorders Affect Your Teeth?

added on: January 20, 2016

Eating disorders usually stem from any combination of emotional, psychological, or social factors and affect around 10 million Americans. Some whole-body health problems that arise from eating disorders range from muscle loss, decreased bone density, and increased risk for heart failure. At my Charlottesville dental office, we also want to bring awareness to some of the oral health concerns associated with eating disorders.

Dental Complications

All eating disorders can negatively affect oral health. One of the main concerns is when the body doesn’t get all of the necessary nutrients it needs, your mouth suffers. Lips can become so dry they crack. Sores may appear in the mouth, and they tend to bleed pretty easily. Teeth may even begin to change color and shape, becoming more translucent.

If vomiting is symptom, even more problems can arise. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, almost 90% of bulimics experience enamel erosion caused by overexposure to stomach acid.  

Signs & Symptoms

Symptoms of an eating disorder often first show in the mouth. This is why a Charlottesville dentist may the first to suspect problem. Some common signs to look for are:

  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Tooth decay
  • Sensitivity

Do’s and Don’ts

First, seek appropriate medical help to work on getting healthy and returning to eating a balanced diet. In the meantime, there are precautions you can take to help keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

  • DO NOT brush your teeth immediately after vomiting. This can actually cause more damage. Rinse with water instead.
  • DO visit your dentist regularly.
  • DO continue to brush twice and floss once daily.

If you’ve been diagnosed with an eating disorder or believe you may be battling one, schedule an appointment at my Charlottesville dental office. There are ways we can help get, and keep, your mouth healthy while you’re working on getting better. We’ll work with you and help you every step of the way.

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