More than 10 million Americans are currently affected by serious disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. While anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, they are most common in teenagers and young women.
How do eating disorders affect our teeth and mouth?
- Tooth enamel can diminish from frequent vomiting. As stomach acid repeatedly flows over the teeth, it can cause decay, sensitivity or cause a change in the color or shape of a tooth.
- The gums and soft tissue may bleed easily from lack of proper nutrition.
- The glands that produce saliva may swell and stop working, causing chronic dry mouth.
If you suffer from an eating disorder, these practices can help reduce any oral health problems:
- Maintain meticulous oral health care by brushing twice a day and flossing once a day
- Do NOT brush immediately after throwing up, but DO rinse with water or baking soda to help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid
- Use an over-the-counter anti-cavity fluoride rinse such as ACT every day
- Consult with your dentist, they may prescribe a prescription strength fluoride rinse or gel and increase your in-office fluoride varnish treatments
- See your dentist every six months or as recommended to prevent problems from getting worse
- Seek counseling and talk to your health care provider. Eating disorders arise from a variety of physical, emotional and social issues. All of these need to be addressed to help prevent and treat these disorders.