Understanding How Eating Disorders Can Impact Dental Health
Posted on: 3 October 2022
Eating disorders, such as anorexia and bulimia, can have a significant negative impact on oral health. Oftentimes, sufferers avoid going for their routine dental check-ups because they know their dentist will likely be able to spot the signs they have an eating disorder. If you're in this situation, be assured that your dentist is not there to judge you or lecture you. They will be accustomed to treating patients with a wide variety of health problems, and they can support you to keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible. Read on to learn about some of the ways eating disorders can impact dental health.
Frequent vomiting can cause enamel erosion due to regular contact of stomach acid with the surface of your teeth. Enamel erosion causes your teeth to become discoloured and brittle over time. This loss of protective enamel can also allow bacteria to get into your teeth and cause an infection, which can lead to severe pain and even tooth loss.
Both vomiting and food restriction can increase your risk of developing dental decay. Vomiting leaves food particles in your mouth, which provides an abundant food source for bacteria and facilitates the build-up of plaque on the surface of your teeth. When plaque is not removed it can damage your teeth and cause decay. Similarly, when food restriction is severe, as tends to be the case with those dealing with anorexia, your mouth can become dry. A dry mouth has a pH level that allows oral bacteria to thrive. Too much bacteria can cause cavities to develop, and you can have cavities for some time before you start to experience a toothache.
Nutritional deficiencies are relatively common in those with an eating disorder due to severe food restrictions. Deficiencies of certain nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D and B vitamins, not only leave you susceptible to tooth decay but can also lead to you developing gum disease. Early signs of gum disease related to nutritional deficiencies include localised redness and swelling and the receding of the gum tissue around your teeth, which can cause sensitivity when eating hot or cold foods.
Regular check-ups with your dentist give them the opportunity to spot early signs of oral health problems, and early treatment can preserve the health of your teeth and prevent tooth loss. If you have an eating disorder, discuss your oral health openly with your dentist. They may suggest more frequent cleaning appointments or recommend products you can use at home to help protect your tooth enamel and keep oral bacteria levels in check.
For more information, contact a local dentist.Share