How Eating Disorders Affect Oral Health
Eating disorders—including anorexia, bulimia and binge eating—affect as many as 30 million Americans of all ages and genders. A full 95% of individuals with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25. Contrary to popular misconception, young men are not immune; in fact, an estimated 10% of individuals with anorexia or bulimia are male.
While these disorders have a significant impact on a person’s overall mental and physical health, they can be detrimental to a person’s oral health, as well. All eating disorders can lead to malnourishment, which can result in anemia, vitamin deficiencies and periodontal disease.
Bulimia is the eating disorder that most affects oral health. If your child suffers from bulimia, the effects on his or her dental health will likely be noticeable early on. Frequent vomiting brings stomach acids into the mouth and leads to erosion of the tooth enamel, especially on the back of the front teeth. Severe erosion can also affect a person’s bite. In addition, frequent vomiting can cause a person’s salivary glands to swell and the inside of the mouth to become red and sore.
If your child suffers from an eating disorder, you need to seek professional help. Even with treatment, it may take time to control episodes of induced vomiting. If your child continues to induce vomiting, we recommend that he or she rinse with a solution of baking soda and water afterward. We may also recommend a mouthwash containing fluoride. However, your child should not brush immediately after vomiting; stomach acids can weaken tooth enamel, which means that brushing too soon afterward can lead to further erosion.
Because changes in your child’s mouth are often the first signs of an eating disorder, we may notice its effects when your child comes in for his or her regular examination. As your child undergoes treatment, we can work with you to minimize the effects of the eating disorder on your child’s oral health.
If you have further questions regarding eating disorders, click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.