Eating disorders affect relationships, one’s self image, and have serious consequences on one’s overall health. They can also have a negative impact on your teeth and oral health.

Anorexia and Bulimia

The two most common eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Those suffering from anorexia literally starve themselves by drastically limiting their food intake. The little food they do consume is promptly excreted through either self-induced vomiting or the use of laxatives. Those suffering from bulimia go on binge eating episodes at least once a day. Following each binge eating episode, the excessive amount of food is then expelled through vomiting or laxatives. Both disorders involve the individual fearing that he or she is overweight. Sufferers of either disorder also use self-induced vomiting and laxatives to avoid gaining weight.

Individuals suffering from either disorder typically have many health issues as their weight drops below what is healthy.  They experience extreme weight loss of weight, hair loss, feeling cold, constipation, heart conditions and possible kidney failure.

Eating Disorders and Dental Health

According to the American Dental Association, the frequent vomiting and nutritional deficiencies caused by eating disorders have negative impacts on oral health. National Eating Disorders Association conducted studies that found that “up to 89 percent of bulimic patients have signs of tooth erosion, due to the effects of powerful stomach acid.”

The almost immediate vomiting and excretion prevent the absorption of much needed vitamins and minerals. Food contains vitamins, minerals and calories the body needs to function and survive. Those with an eating disorder excrete the ingested food before the body has time to digest it and absorb the needed nutrients. As a result, oral health suffers. The resulting nutritional deficiency causes enlargement of salivary glands, dry mouth, red and cracked lips, oral lesions, tooth translucency and erosion. Teeth also become brittle, especially on the tips, making them more prone to cracks and fractures.

The teeth of those who are anorexic or bulimic change color, shape and length due to the constant vomiting and exposure to harsh stomach acids. They also become brittle and sensitive to temperature as the acid from the vomiting corrode the enamel. As a result, cavities, gum disease and tooth loss can occur as well as the need for dental crowns, implants and bridges. Teeth not only become unhealthy, but look bad, which can cause more anxiety and self-esteem issues for those with eating disorders.

Though dental health may not be the first thing you may think of in relation to eating disorders, it is important. An unhealthy mouth can lead to prolonged and sometimes painful dental conditions that can take time and money to correct. Dental health problems also impact your overall health and well-being.

If you or someone you know has an eating disorder, it is important to seek immediate medical attention. It is also strongly recommended to routinely have dental check-ups, cleaning and diagnosis every six months.

At Artistic Smiles, you’ll find a wide range of restorative dental services to repair teeth and gums damaged by the vomiting associated with an eating disorder. For those who want to regain their beautiful smile and healthy mouth, schedule an appointment with us today.