According to some statistics, 10 million women and one million men struggle with eating disorders in the United States. This figure is worrying because these disorders affect almost every part of the body, inlcuding your dental health. For example, some eating disorders interfere with dental health in different ways such as:
Those who struggle with eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia also have to deal with poor nutrition. Anorexia is an eating disorder in which you have an unhealthy obsession not to gain weight, and you try to achieve this by (extremely) limiting your food intake. Those who suffer from bulimia, however, tend to shove down huge amounts of food, which they then eliminate via vomiting.
In both cases, your body does not get all the nutrients it deserves, and the effect will also be felt in the mouth. For example, your body needs calcium and phosphorous (from proteins) to keep rebuilding your teeth enamel. If you don't get enough of these minerals, then your enamel won't rebuild itself when it erodes.
It is not just nutrition alone that you should be worried about. Even the practice of binge eating can damage your teeth. If you take frequent snacks, especially of the sugary kind, then you are exposing your teeth to too much sugar. Since you aren't likely to brush every time you snack, the bacteria in your mouth will have a field day feeding on the sugars. The bacteria release acids that eventually cause teeth decay.
Your vomiting tendencies expose your teeth to high levels of acid. The acids cause enamel erosion, which leads to further consequences such as:
- Increased teeth sensitivity
- Increased staining tendencies
- Dental pain
- Increased risk of dental caries
The treatment of eating disorders is a multifaceted approach that involves counseling, improved nutrition and even medication. Some of the medication you are likely to be given include antidepressants (to help combat your depression that may be causing your eating disorder) and dextrose tablets to act as sources of energy.
Unfortunately, some of these medicines also cause oral health problems. For example, antidepressants may cause dry mouth conditions, which increases your risk for gum disease, thrush and other dental conditions.
Therefore, you stand to gain a lot by having a handle on your eating disorder. It is also a good idea to take extra precautions for your dental hygiene and increase your dental consultations at your family dental clinic. Such measures will help you to mitigate the harmful effects of your eating disorder on your teeth.