Dental Problems with Anorexia, Bulimia, and Binge Eating Disorders
Although eating disorders are often accompanied by a variety of physical and emotional complications, perhaps the most painful are those leading to severe dental problems. To be sure, there is some overlap with respect to the specific impact each type of eating disorder has on our teeth and mouth.
The list of dental complications for each eating disorder is listed below:
- Loss of tissue and erosive lesions on the surface of teeth due to the corrosive effects of acid [Bulimia]
- Changes in color, shape, and length of teeth. Teeth becoming brittle, translucent, and weak. [Anorexia, Bulimia]
- Increased sensitivity to temperature. In some instances exposing the pulp and leading to infection, discoloration, or death of the tooth [Anorexia, Bulimia, Binge Eating Disorder]
- Enlargement of the salivary glands, dry mouth, cracked lips and in some instances impaction and infection of the salivary glands [Anorexia, Bulimia]
- Tooth decay, which ironically may be aggravated by extensive tooth brushing or rinsing following vomiting [Bulimia]
- Extensive caries and tooth decay secondary to increased ingestion of sugar, soft drinks with carbonation [Bulimia, Binge Eating]
It’s obvious the best approach to these issues is to treat the eating disorder and repair as much of the damage as possible with good dental care. Unfortunately, the longer the active eating disorder has been in place, the greater the probability the damage is irreversible. That said, a visit to the dentist is in order. Much of the damage can be treated, albeit expensive and initially uncomfortable with root canal work, crowns, caps, and prosthetic measures such as dental implants.
If you suffer with an eating disorder and opt to continue until you’re ready or willing to get help, here are a few recommendations from the American Dental Association, some of which are noted with our prior article regarding dental problems and eating disorders:
- Maintain vigilance with oral hygiene including brushing and flossing
- Immediately after throwing up, DO NOT brush but rather rinse with baking soda to help neutralize the stomach acid coating your mouth
- Consult with your dentist about caring for your mouth
- See your dentist every 4 to 6 months
Are you or a loved one suffering from an eating disorder? Please reach out to us. You are not alone and we are here to help.