Anorexia, bulimia, and binge-eating are all eating disorders that have the potential to cause dental health concerns. Symptoms range from mild to severe and hurt both your oral and overall health. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team can identify early signs of an eating disorder and help patients access the treatment they need to stop harmful behaviors and improve oral health.
How Do Eating Disorders Affect Oral Health?
It’s no secret that your diet has a huge impact on the health of your mouth. A lack of nutrients and consuming too many sugary or acidic foods may lead to tooth decay and other problems. However, the harm caused to the mouth by an eating disorder is often just as devastating to your oral health.
What Are Eating Disorders?
An eating disorder is any abnormal or dangerous eating habit. They are serious and potentially life-threatening mental illnesses that may cause long-term damage to a person’s mental, physical, and oral health. Some of the most common eating disorders include:
- Anorexia: Individuals suffering from anorexia nervosa severely limit their food intake out of fear of gaining weight.
- Bulimia: Individuals with bulimia nervosa engage in a pattern of binge-eating numerous calories and then purging. Vomiting, taking laxatives, and engaging in long periods of exercise are all methods of purging.
- Binge-eating: This eating disorder involves an individual who consumes excessive amounts of food. The person typically eats until they are uncomfortable and experiences associated feelings of shame, guilt, depression, or disgust after the episode.
There are many types of eating disorders that have varied behaviors and characteristics. They usually start with an unhealthy view or obsession with food or body weight.
How Do They Cause Complications In the Mouth?
Dietary habits have a major impact on oral health. Visible signs may emerge in the mouth that indicate a problem or change in routine behavior. Dr. Kevin F. Postol and his team can check for early signs of an eating disorder as changes in the mouth are often the first symptoms a patient presents.
Restricting food leads to deficiencies in key nutrients like calcium, vitamins, and iron. A trained dentist will notice the signs of nutritional deficiencies such as tooth decay, gum disease, and sores. Other behaviors associated with an eating disorder, such as frequent vomiting, also leave behind signs. Vomiting brings stomach acid into contact with the teeth and can cause them to lose enamel or change color. It also can leave behind small cuts and redness in the mouth, which is a warning sign to dentists that there may be a deeper problem.
Individuals who binge eat may consume unhealthy amounts of sugar and carbonated beverages that increase the amount of plaque present on the teeth. This raises the risk of developing cavities and tooth decay.
Signs of Damage From an Eating Disorder
Eating disorders are serious and the associated lack of essential vitamins and nutrients can lead to dysfunction in the body. Higher levels of acidity in the mouth can also cause harm by wearing away the teeth and gums. These are some of the oral signs of an eating disorder:
- Bleeding of the gums and soft tissues
- Red and swollen gums
- Swollen salivary glands
- Chronic dry mouth
- Cracked and dry lips
- Mouth sores
- Bad breath
- Change in tooth color or shape
- Erosion of enamel
- Redness and small scratches or cuts in the mouth
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Sensitive teeth
- Bruising around the mouth
When left untreated, an eating disorder can progress to cause serious and permanent health issues in the mouth and throughout the body.
Treatment of Dental Concerns Caused by Eating Disorders
Dr. Kevin F. Postol can identify concerning signs that a patient may have an eating disorder. Routine check-ups look for problems and issues with the hard and soft mouth tissues. If warning signs are found, our team gently addresses the issue by discussing the oral health problems and giving advice and treatment options to correct them. Your dentist won’t judge you, so be honest so you can get the best care, advice, and ongoing support.
Dental care for individuals with eating disorders varies according to each person’s unique needs. The first step is to get the help necessary to treat the disorder and receive proper dental care. The longer the damaging behavior continues, the harder it is to reverse the oral health consequences.
Visit your dentist regularly to get an assessment and advice. If you require crowns, a root canal, or any form of cosmetic dentistry, you will need to address these issues immediately and then follow up with good oral hygiene and consistent follow-up visits.
Oral Hygiene Practices
You can help prevent further problems and protect your dental health by following a dentist-recommended oral hygiene practice. Start by brushing and flossing every day. Avoid brushing your teeth after vomiting as this can lead to further damage. Instead, rinse your mouth with water or a mouthwash. Ask for specific instructions to treat your additional areas of concern. Dr. Postol may prescribe a desensitizing toothpaste, remineralizing substance, or another product.
Restore Your Smile With Dr. Kevin F. Postol
If you need dental services, schedule an appointment with Dr. Postol today. Our dental team has more than 25 years of experience in family and cosmetic dentistry. We use the latest techniques to help you improve your oral health and maintain a gorgeous smile. Whether you need a routine examination or have specific needs, your health is our priority. If you are currently dealing with an eating disorder, our team can step in and help you restore your oral health. Early detection is best for a smooth and successful recovery.
You can be confident that your comfort and care are our primary focus. We understand that a trip to the dentist can be stressful. We do our best to ease your anxiety with our friendly environment and various amenities so you can relax through your appointment and have a pleasant experience.