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Eating Disorders and Dental Problems

Eating Disorders and Dental Problems

One of the tragic side effects of having an eating disorder can be poor oral health. There are a variety of reasons why the two are so closely linked.

Those suffering from an eating disorder tend to purge what little nutrition they take into their bodies. One of the ways food can be purged is by vomiting it back up. Sometimes, especially with bulimia, purging may follow intense sessions of binging. The fact of the matter is that our vomit contains stomach acids that do a great deal of damage to our tooth enamel. To make matters worse, many people brush their teeth immediately after throwing up, in an effort to conceal the act of purging. The reason this is so bad is because the enamel actually remains in a weakened state for an hour after throwing up. That means that brushing your teeth right after purging actually scrapes away more enamel. A good dentist is able to spot these wear patterns on the teeth, indicating to them that their patient has an eating disorder. These patients may also develop ulcerations in the mouth and lesions on their soft palates.

The refusal to take in a sufficient amount of calories each day can also cause dental problems. Malnutrition can cause an inflammation of the tongue, fungal infections, chronic dry mouth, chronic ulcerations, and a poor ability to heal from oral injury. Due to these tell-tale signs, dentists are often one of the first healthcare providers to diagnose an eating disorder.

If you suffer from an eating disorder, it is important to have a dentist regularly monitor your oral health. Contact our Northridge dentist to set up a consultation.

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