Taking Care of Tooth Implants at Home

Eating Disorders And How They Affect Your Oral Health

by Randy Rodriguez

Anorexia nervosa and bulimia are two common eating disorders that can be life threatening if not diagnosed and treated in time.  According to the National Organization for Women Foundation, in the United States alone, there are 5-10 million women and 1 million men and boys who suffer from bulimia or anorexia. These disorders are bad for general health and can also severely harm your teeth. If you or someone you know suffers from anorexia or bulimia, it is important to get medical and psychological help before the tooth damage is irreversible.

What characterizes anorexia and bulimia?

Both are psychological disorders that are characterized by a false self-image of being grossly overweight. Bulimics binge and vomit, while anorexics eat small quantities of food and can also vomit. Bulimics can engage in eating binges more than once a day, after which they feel disgusted with themselves and expunge the food by forcing themselves to regurgitate. Other ways they get rid of the food they have eaten is by laxative, diuretic, or enema abuse.

Why are these disorders dangerous?

Repetitive vomiting is dangerous because the stomach bile is extremely acidic. People with these disorders may suffer from the following complications:

  • A ruptured esophagus
  • Stomach and heart problems
  • Malnutrition
  • Oral disorders

What are the main oral disorders anorexics and bulimics develop?

  • Halitosis
  • Gum disease
  • Chronic sore throat
  • Severe swelling of the tonsils and soft palate
  • A red or swollen tongue
  • Tooth erosion and discoloration
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Extensive tooth decay

Oral disorders are magnified if a bulimic gorges on high-calorie and high-carbohydrate foods, because the sugars in these foods releases acid on the teeth even before the vomiting begins. A vicious cycle takes hold, where the acid from the vomiting erodes the teeth, and then bacteria multiplied by the sugary foods attaches to the eroded teeth in the form of plaque and decay quickly sets in.

Anorexics and bulimics must take the following steps to avoid widespread tooth decay and the need for fillings and extractions:

  1. The problem must be revealed to and discussed with the dentist.
  2. Dental hygiene should be strictly maintained, with regular brushing and flossing after any meals or sugary snacks – or at least rinsing the mouth, and scheduled visits to a dentist like those at the Dorset Dental Office for examinations and cleanings.

If you wait until the anorexia or bulimia is cured to deal with your dental issues, it might be too late to save your teeth. Even if nobody else knows about your condition, or if you are not at a stage where you are ready to seek a cure, by all means keep your dentist informed and work to keep your oral health up to a satisfactory standard. Because once you are finally cured, you will be happy to still have your own teeth to smile with over your success.