Dental health refers to all aspects of the health and functioning of your mouth, especially the gums and teeth. Aside from enabling you to speak, eat, and laugh, your teeth can speak volumes about your overall health.
Dietary habits can and do play a role in oral health.Eating disorders can affect a person’s oral health. Eating disorders occur when people become fixated by how much they eat.
Eating disorders have severe consequences and may cause even permanent damage to the teeth and mouth. Dentists in India are regularly counseling patients on eating disorders and their effects on teeth.
When harsh stomach acid from frequent repeatedly flows over teeth, the tooth’s enamel can be lost to the point that the teeth change in color, length and shape. Teeth become thin and break off easily. Eating hot or cold food or drink may become uncomfortable.
People with eating disorders may experience tenderness of the mouth and throat and notice swollen salivary glands. Swollen salivary glands may result in widening of the jaw and a square-like shape. Anorexia sufferers due to lack of nutrients consumed may experience weakening of the jaw bone resulting from osteoporosis, which also weakens teeth and leads to tooth loss.
Eating disorders affect young girls, affects more women than man. These illnesses involve a constant preoccupation with food, a distorted body image and excessive measures taken to control weight;excessive to the point of harming your body’s health as well as mental health and interpersonal relations. Eating disorders are now being addressed in dental clinics in India.
With so many men and women suffering from eating disorders, more dentists are becoming the first line of defense when it comes to recognizing these problems in patients. Dentists in Delhi are spotting the warning signs of an eating disorder and point the parents in the right direction to take proper steps.
The two most common eating disorders are bulimia and anorexia. These two illnesses can alternate or follow one another. The signs of these disorders are an extreme fear of gaining weight, a desire to be thin, the failure to maintain a normal weight based on height and age, self-induced starvation and vomiting after anything is eaten.
Anorexia- This typically involves an extreme fear of gaining weight or a dread of becoming fat. These individuals may be very thin or even extremely underweight, but severely limit the amount of food they eat and they see themselves as fat. They may attempt to reach or maintain what they think is their perfect body weight by literally starving themselves. They may also exercise excessively.
Bulimia- Like anorexia, bulimia also includes the fear of being overweight. But it also includes hidden periods of excessive eating which may occur several times a week or even several times a day. While overeating, individuals may feel completely out of control. They may regularly eat large amounts of food often high in carbohydrates and fats that would be greater than what an average person would eat at one sitting. After they overeat, they attempt to get rid of the food and calories from their bodies by forcing themselves to throw up as quickly as possible or using medicines such as laxatives.
Changes in the mouth are often times the first physical signs of an eating disorder. The harmful habits and nutritional deficiencies that often accompany disordered eating can have severe consequences on one’s dental health.
In some reputed dental clinics in Delhi, the dentists are doing family counseling where both the parents and their children (who are suffering from eating disorders) are educated about the detrimental effects of eating disorders both on the body and the teeth.
How Do Eating Disorders Damage Your Teeth?
One of the first signs that a patient may be suffering from an eating disorder is the thinning of the enamel of the lower front teeth.
Purging causes stomach acid to travel through the mouth, and this acid erodes the backside of the front teeth quite heavily.
Purging can lead to redness, scratches and cuts inside the mouth, especially on the upper surface commonly referred to as the ‘soft palate.’
Erosion of tooth enamel, very sensitive teeth, bad breath, dry mouth, cracked, red and dry lips, mouth sores can all be results of eating disorders.
Oral Signs and symptoms of an Eating Disorder in the Mouth
A routine dental checkup can reveal oral signs of these diseases to a dental professional. Some of the warning signs include:
- Tooth decay
- Tooth enamel erosion
- Gum pain / bleeding gums
- Dry mouth
- Chronic sore throat
- Inflamed esophagus
- Tenderness in the mouth, throat, and salivary glands
- Teeth that are worn and appear almost translucent
- Palatal hemorrhages
- Decreased saliva production
- Enlarged parotid glands
- Problems swallowing
- Jaw alignment abnormalities
- Cracked, red and dry lips
- Highly sensitive teeth
- Mouth sores
- Bad Breath
Recovering from Your Disorder and Restoring Your Oral Health
There are several steps that can be taken to reduce the effects of the acid on teeth and gums. Because of the devastating effect eating disorders can have on the teeth and oral health, no permanent tooth repair should be done until the person has undergone treatment to beat the disorder.
1. Maintain meticulous oral health care related to tooth brushing and flossing, as well as regular six monthly check ups with your dentist to help prevent tooth decay and build stronger teeth.
2. Avoid brushing teeth immediately after vomiting. The powerful stomach acids weaken tooth enamel, and brushing causes the enamel to erode quicker.
3. Rinse your mouth with water immediately after purging – if this habit is still continuing. Patients should swish only water around their mouth due to the high acidic content in the oral cavity.
4. Brushing teeth after purging should be halted for an hour to avoid actually scrubbing the stomach acids deeper into the tooth enamel.
5. A dry mouth, or xerostomia, may result from vomiting and/or poor overall nutrition. Xerostomia will also frequently lead to tooth decay. Moisturizing the mouth with water, or other specified products, will help keep recurrent decay at a minimum.
6. Temporary appliances – such as mouth guards – may be recommended to prevent additional wear.
Once recovered from the eating disorder, repair of the damaged and worn teeth can take place.
Dentists in India not only counsel the patients with eating disorders but systematically follow up so that they can evaluate the progress they are making.
Early detection of the disease may ensure a smoother and successful recovery period for the body and the teeth. Including a dentist in the health care team can help ensure that recovery is successful for the entire body.
Posted By – Dr. Shriya