The Effects of Anorexia and Bulimia on Oral Health

San Rafael dentist on anorexiaSAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA – We’ve said many times that your oral health directly affects your total body health. In some instances, this works both ways.

Your total body health can affect your oral health. Patients who struggle with eating disorders have problems dealing with emotions or self-image. Eating disorders generally affect more women than men, but that doesn’t mean men are immune to these disorders. Some people feel pressure to be thinner for their jobs or from their peers. Others may display irregular eating patterns due to stress or anxiety.

What are anorexia and bulimia?
Eating disorders affect your physical and mental health. People with anorexia starve their bodies of vital nutrients because of an extreme fear of gaining weight. Anorexic women may become too thin to menstruate.

People with bulimia frequently binge and purge. Purging is normally thought of as vomiting. This is true for many patients, though laxatives and obsessive exercise are also considered purging. Doctors don’t know the exact cause of bulimia. Bulimia can cause serious health problems, such as tearing in the esophagus, dehydration, pancreatitis, constipation, hemorrhoids and electrolyte imbalances.

“Genetic, psychological, trauma, family, society, or cultural factors may play a role,” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. “Bulimia is likely due to more than one factor.”

Anorexia and bulimia are also detrimental to your oral health. Dr. Greg Larson, a San Francisco dentist who also provides patients of San Rafael Invisalign treatment, wants them to understand the risks associated with anorexia and bulimia.

How do eating disorders affect my teeth?
Many times dentists and dental hygienists are the first healthcare specialists to detect eating disorders in patients, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. The NEDA outlines specific ways that eating disorders disrupt your oral health.

Your dentist may notice tissue loss or destructive lesions on your teeth from frequent acid exposure. Vomiting bathes teeth in acid, which can eat away at your teeth. Almost 90 percent of bulimic patients have evident tooth erosion, according to the NEDA.

Some patients experience sharp pain in a specific tooth. Others experience heightened sensitivity to temperatures; food and beverages that are too hot or too cold will aggravate your teeth. Some patients have inflamed salivary glands that can cause dry mouth and chapped lips.

Patients may have cavities or show signs of gum disease. Teeth can alter in color and shape, and teeth can become damaged, thin and semitransparent. Anorexic patients may experience bone loss from lack of nutrients.

Our general, cosmetic and migraine dentists can help you restore your smile after eating disorder damage. Oakland teeth whitening can bring back some of the vibrant whiteness of discolored teeth. In Berkeley, veneers help bulimic patients fortify and restore their teeth.

How do I get help?
Eating disorders also affect other parts of your life, including your participation in school or at work, your self-image and your relationships. There are resources available to people with eating disorders. Call the NEDA hotline if you are suffering from an eating disorder and would like to get help. The road to recovery isn’t always easy, but your mind and body will be healthier once you overcome your disorder.

Treatments vary by case, but your doctor may suggest support groups, antidepressants or cognitive behavioral therapy. We care about your teeth and your quality of life. We want you to take back control and overcome your eating disorder.

© 2012 Master Google and Dr. Greg Larson. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Dr. Greg Larson and Master Google are credited as sole source. Linking to other sites from this document is strictly prohibited, with the exception of herein imbedded links.