Eating disorders wreak havoc on the body. They’re associated with a wide variety of severe health problems—some of which can be fatal. But one overlooked complication that’s linked to eating disorders is their effect on teeth and oral health.
Both anorexia nervosa and bulimia are associated with poor dental health, tooth decay, and gum disease. However, the ways in which they’re associated with those conditions differ:
Anorexia—Anorexia is the name for a psychological condition that results in sufferers failing to eat an adequate amount of food every day in order to lose weight or maintain an unhealthy body weight. People with anorexia are often extremely malnourished, which leads to a deficiency of vitamins and nutrients. Those deficiencies can manifest in oral health, as teeth and gums need vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy.
Bulimia—People who suffer from bulimia often binge eat calorically dense foods, only to vomit later. This cycle of gorging and purging is extremely harmful to the body, including the mouth. Frequent vomiting introduces harsh stomach acids into the mouth, which can erode tooth enamel. It can also cause inflammation of the gums and salivary glands, potentially leading to other oral health problems such as periodontal disease.
What Treatments Are Available for Eating Disorder-Related Oral Health Issues?
In addition to getting treatment for the disorders themselves, people who suffer from anorexia or bulimia should get dental checkups regularly. Tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health problems can happen quickly in people who suffer from eating disorders, even if they brush and floss daily.
At Willow Chase Dentistry, it’s our goal to help everyone achieve and maintain ideal dental health. Whether you suffer from a health problem that’s associated with oral diseases, or you’re just looking for a dentist that will help you get the smile you’ve always wanted, we’re here to help.