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Impact of Eating Disorders on Oral Health

Man with a Cherry Bulimia nervosa and anorexia nervosa are two most common eating disorders. Behaviors such as binge eating, self induced vomiting and excess use of laxatives may be associated with these disorders. Apart from other health concerns, these behaviors also have an adverse impact on the oral health of the patient.

Patients of bulimia nervosa may be prone to frequent vomiting. The vomit releases stomach acids that have a corrosive effect on the tooth enamel. If the condition is left untreated for a longer time, it may lead to gum disease and decaying of the teeth. Inflammation and swelling may occur in the salivary glands, throat, oral tissue and gums. Lips may become translucent and parched, and the patient may also suffer from bad breath.

Bulimia may also cause oral cosmetic problems such as yellowing, worn out or discolored teeth. Patients with braces or dental fillings may experience discomfort, and the braces may begin to lose their good fit. A good cosmetic dentist’s intervention becomes necessary to improve the damaged tooth enamel and the problems of unsightly teeth.

Anorexia nervosa results in prolonged bouts of starvation, which causes a deficiency of essential nutrients in the body. If the condition is not treated in time, it may lead to osteoporosis. From an oral health point of view, it may result in weak jaw bones that support the tooth structure. The bone erosion, if left unchecked, may cause tooth loss.

Other oral conditions associated with eating disorders include burning of the tongue, bleeding gums, misalignment of the teeth with the lower jaw hitting the roof of the mouth, dry mouth condition, and tooth and gum sensitivity.

Patients with oral health complications caused by eating disorders usually seek treatment when they experience tooth ache or discomfort. However, the more the treatment gets delayed, the more complicated it gets to reverse the condition. Extensive dental treatment may become necessary if the damage to the teeth is substantial. A cosmetic dentist may have to use restorations such as dental crowns, porcelain veneers and overlays to improve the condition.

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