Anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorders can all negatively impact your oral health. With symptoms ranging from mild to more serious, dental professionals can be among the first ones to recognize potential red flags. Research has shown that eating disorders are closely linked to poor oral health. In this article, we will be examining the main symptoms of each eating disorder, how oral health is affected, and how your dental team is equipped to help those suffering from eating disorders.
Common Eating Disorders
Common eating disorders include anorexia, binge eating disorder and bulimia.
Those suffering from anorexia restrict their food and beverage intake, with an intense fear of gaining weight. Often, people with anorexia nervosa place the utmost importance on their caloric intake, attributing their self-worth to it. If they deem that they have eaten the “wrong” foods or eaten too much, they are likely to punish themselves. Additionally, they might attempt to eliminate excess weight and calories by laxative use, vomiting or intense exercise.
- Binge Eating Disorder
Though the condition was previously classified as an addiction to food, medical professionals now have gained a better understanding of the disorder. Binge eaters consume considerable quantities of food, feeling as if they are not in control of what is happening. Binges could be spontaneous or planned ahead of time. The condition should not be classified as people “overindulging” or preferring to have larger servings, as the experience can often be shameful and distressing for sufferers. Those with the condition will not purge after a binge.
While also a binge eating disorder, this differs greatly from the previous condition. This condition is diagnosed based on a pattern of binge eating, then purging after, for extended periods of time. Binging is defined as consuming an excessive amount of calories in one go. Purging is defined as expelling food through vomiting, laxative use or excessive exercise. Patterns of binging and purging may differ between those suffering from the condition. However, those suffering from bulimia may often have their condition overlooked because they are usually considered to be of average weight. Other symptoms include lethargy and constipation.
How Eating Disorders Impact Your Oral Health
Eating disorders have serious effects on sufferers’ physical health. These deficiencies in nutrients and vitamins will lead to a shutdown of bodily functions or operations at reduced capacities. These effects are reflected throughout the body, and also in the mouth. Some common symptoms include dry mouth, enamel erosion, cracked lips, mouth sores and sensitive teeth. Other ways eating disorders can be detected include tooth decay and bruising to the mouth. Tooth enamel erosion can arise as a result of excessive vomiting and frequent exposure to stomach acid.
Detection Of Eating Disorders
Dentists are well-positioned to identify warning signs of eating disorders early, through symptoms like tooth decay through excessive sugar consumption and signs of nutrient deficiencies. Being open and honest at your dental checkup will allow your dental team to provide you with more helpful assistance. If you’re suffering from oral health complications, consider booking an appointment with Dr Alex Rubinov, one of the best dental care providers in NYC.