Eating disorders affect 20 million women and 10 million men in the United States, and many sufferers experience severe dental effects from these conditions. In addition to damaging appearance, dental problems further contribute to the health complications linked to anorexia and bulimia. Patients with eating disorders can take certain precautions to help protect their oral health.
A study in the United Kingdom found that 36 percent of people with eating disorders showed signs of severe tooth erosion, a figure three times as high as in people without eating disorders. Other oral health issues associated with eating disorders include dry mouth, facial pains and tooth sensitivity. Although bulimia may result in these issues because sufferers are exposed to stomach acid through frequent vomiting, patients with anorexia are also prone to dental problems due to chronic malnutrition.
Patients with anorexia and bulimia can help support their oral health by taking certain steps. For example, people with bulimia should rinse their mouth thoroughly after vomiting but should never brush immediately afterwards because the abrasion combined with acidity can quickly erode enamel. Fluoridated toothpaste can help strengthen teeth, and sugar-free gum will help protect teeth by stimulating salivary flow without contributing to cavities.
Dental health is likely to erode further with untreated eating disorders as stomach acid exposure continues and malnutrition worsens. At a consultation with our Houston dentist, patients with eating disorders can learn more about prevention and restoration of these oral health problems through at-home and clinical dental treatments.
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