Dentists deal with a number of issues that may not seem directly related to oral health at first, and some of them may surprise you. Take, for instance, how eating habits can impact the teeth. When disordered eating comes into play — like for patients who have bulimia or anorexia nervosa — the effects can really show up on their smile. Most dentists will deal with this throughout their careers, and your dentist in Midland knows how important it is to provide kind, compassionate care for patients dealing with disordered eating.
Bulimia, anorexia nervosa (or just “anorexia”), and binging can all have a significant impact on oral health. Keep reading to learn what this impact looks like — and how we can help.
Eating Disorders and Teeth
Two of the most common types of disordered eating are bulimia, or purging after eating, and anorexia, in which sufferers use starvation tactics. Binge eating, or periods of restrictive eating followed by the rapid consumption of large amounts of food, is also common.
Bulimia has perhaps the most significant effect on oral health, as constant purging disrupts the delicate pH balance that your mouth requires to stay healthy. Stomach acids in vomit come into contact with the tooth enamel, gradually weakening it and leaving the sufferer at a higher risk of tooth decay. Discoloration of the tooth enamel and tooth loss may occur as a result. What’s more, patients who have bulimia often experience moderate to severe pain in the TMJ (jaw muscle) from the induced vomiting.
Anorexic patients lack the nutrients that are required for healthy teeth and gums, like calcium, protein, and vitamin D. This vitamin deficiency is evident through skin tone, hair, and fingernails. Patients who binge eat often consume large amounts of sugary foods, which leaves them at a higher risk of developing tooth decay and gum disease.
How Your Midland Dentist Can Help
Because the effects of eating disorders are so significant for oral health, a dentist may be the first medical professional to notice the presence of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. Treatment is most successful once the eating disorder has been treated, as there is the risk of repeated damage if bulimia, anorexia, or binge eating continue.
Treatment for teeth for an eating disorder may involve dental crowns or veneers to cover up damaged front teeth, or dental bridges or implants to replace any missing teeth. Whatever treatment is appropriate, visiting a dentist who is sensitive to the needs of patients who suffer from disordered eating is of the utmost importance.
Dr. Christensen is the compassionate, experienced dentist our community turns to when they need special dental care. If you or a loved one are dealing with an eating disorder, please do not hesitate to get in touch with your family dentist in Midland.