Can Anorexia and Bulimia Affect Oral Health?

The Critical Signs Start in the Mouth

“My Dentist is my best friend.” You have no idea how true this saying is, especially for people who visit their dentist and he identifies a serious health issue that needs to be attended; one such issue is Anorexia and Bulimia say experts at the Dental Network of America, Dental Implants Atlanta and Lake Park Dental.

Eating disorders or EDs are a category of psychopathologic disorder that affect a patient’s relaionship with food and the body, often  this manifests itself in a chaotic eating behavior. Although considered a psychological disorder, there are often oral and maxillofacial signs associated with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa says my dentist and the experts of LPD, DIA and DNA.

It is estimated that there are now approximately 10 million people who suffer from an eating disorder in America. These are eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. This disorder can affect a person at any age, but are most common in teen and young adult women. This type of eating disorder is of concern because it can affect the quality of life of the person who suffers from this condition. It affects self-image, family relationships and life-style performance. Today, doctors and dentists throughout the nation know that it is critical to diagnose a person with an eating disorder. The will recommend that the person get professional medical help. When left untreated, people with this type of problem can acquire other health complications that can be life threatening.

Dental Network of America suggests that when it comes to Anorexia and Bulimia dentists have always been in the forefront of screening and diagnosis of these systemic health problems. This comes form the evaluation of oral manifestations. In fact, dentists and dental hygienists might be the only health care providers who regularly examine patients with this condition, sand they can be the first to identify and assess the physical and oral effects , and they can be the first to initiate the appropriate referral because it is usually because of dental pain that patients with these disorders first visit a medical professional. 

Kinds of Eating Disorders According to the Dental Network of America

Anorexia is a disorder that happens to people who are afraid of gaining weight or getting fat. People who suffer from the condition are constantly trying to keep their weight down and lose weight by restricting food intake. They feel fat, even though they aren’t, to the contrary they are often too thin. To help maintain their needed weight, they binge eat and then follow it up by vomiting, usning laxatives, enemas or diuretics to eliminate the food intake they made. Unfortunately, Anorexia is now a major concern to all health professionals as it has a very high premature mortality rate. 

Bulimia is not as bad as Anorexia, and the overeating only happens in spurts over a weeks period. But when it is a severe form of Bulimia, the person can purge several times a day, and will have moments when they feel out of control. The sufferer could eat a lot of empty calories in just one sitting. After the binge comes the purge which the sufferer believes will compensate for overeating and help them avoid gaining weight. These purging activities are self induced by vomiting or with the help of laxatives and other over the counter purging products. 

Dentists Must Make an Effort to Diagnose the Problem

Food avoidance and disordered eating behavior are hallmarks of the psycopathologic disorders, suggests the Dental Network of America. This disorder is known as Anorexia Nervosa and Bulimia Nervosa. Anorexia is characterized by severe restriction of food intake. This leads to weight loss and the medical consequences of starvation. Bulimia nervosa is characterized by attempts to curtail food intake, interspersed with binge eating, followed by self induced vomiting to rid the body of food. One of the first health conseuenses is tooth erosion and a heightened sensitivity, caused by tooth contact with gastric acid during the vomiting sequences. This Self-induced vomiting can bulimic patient causes trauma to intraoral soft tissues in the form of epithelial ulceration.  dentist and dental hygienist are often the First Healthcare Providers to examine patients with anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, and are in a good position to recognize and or eating disorder.  Unfortunately, too few oral health practitioners  consistently asses patients for oral manifestations of eating disorders,And equally, few patients suffering from eating disorders regard their oral health  practitioner as an important source of information about the eating disorder. lack of knowledge about the intra and extraoral effects of eating disorder create a barrier that prevents patients from speaking frankly with their dentist about the issue. it is important that oral health practitioners and patients talk about the issue and diagnose the  effects of these disorders so proper treatment can be referred.

Who Does It Affect

Binge Eating or Compulsive Overeating happens to both men an women, as it affects people who dont have proper eating habits and do not understand how best to control their weight. People with the disorder eat a lot of food, generally junk food, quickly, then they feel out of control, the feel shame and guilt, so they eat more food and then purge themselves with medications or by inducing vomiting. 

What Are The Symptoms

Both of these eating disorders cause malnutrition and a lack of proper vitamins and minerals. The immune system weakens and causes symptoms which can include hair loss, a feeling of always being cold, extreme weight loss, irregular menstruation and other health problems. In severe cases it leads to heart conditions and even kidney failure.  

The general age of onset of anorexia nervosa is between 17 and 20 years of age. 90 to 95% of all people who suffer from this condition are under the age of 25.  there is a decided prevalence of anorexia in the Caucasian population. one of the prevalent conditions that all anorexic patients suffer from is the concern of body image and the obsession with body weight. it is the need to lose weight which causes self-induced starvation, food abstention and intense physical activity. patients are often subject to the medical sequelae of starvation, dehydration, electrolyte abnormalities, abnormal cardiac function, gastrointestinal complications, endocrine abnormalities, and an  increased risk in fertility problems.

Bulimia nervosa is more common than anorexia and generally has a better prognosis and outcome when treated early. It is estimated to occur in 1% to 2 per cent of women ages 16 to 35 .1% of men. Because patients fear weight gain they free their bodies of food through self-induced vomiting, laxatives and diuretics. Bulimia nervosa can be difficult to recognize as patients usually exhibit normal weight as opposed to anorexia. even so, and bulimia are associated with serious dental problems. The effects of these behaviors on teeth and oral mucosa  we’re only recently discovered.

Oral manifestations includes erosion and demineralization open memo on the lingual, occlusion and incisal tooth surfaces. This is caused by the effects of regurgitation of gastric and acid contents of the stomach, as well as traumatized oral and pharyngeal mucosal membranes.The effects also caused an increase in Cary, hide and tooth sensitivity, dry mouth, soft tissue lesions and periodontal  disease.It is important to note that anorexic patients seem less concerned about their oral hygiene that bulimic patients.

Both anorexic and bulimic patients share physical manifestations like dryness of skin,Arrhythmia and cracked or dry nails.


When it comes to Oral Health Dental Professionals Identify The Following Symptoms:

Dentists at Dental Network of America, say that one of the first signs is the enlargin of the salivary glands. The lips are also lacking hydration and are dried and cracked. Lesions can often appear on the gums and inside the mouth. This condition can also cause the mouth to  bleed easily. Teeth wil also discolor and even become more translucent. In some people, the size and shape of teeth will change. 


The Effects on Oral Health

Frequent vomiting causes more acids in the mouth and this causes tooth erosion and caries. Over time, this becomes a significant problem and teeth change in color, shape and length. Teeth can also become more fragile, can break and may become extremely sensitive to temperature. The dentist will also notice an inflammation of the salivary glands. This can cause a widening of the jaw and make it more square. Dry mouth can develop which increases problems with gingivitis, periodontitis and eventually, tooth loss.  


Eating disorders are the result of psychological problems, usually these relate to a feeling of loss of self worth. These underlying issues are the ones that need to be treated in order to alleviate and prevent further oral health disorders. Family and friends can offer eating advice and set a good example. They can also give positive comments and offer advice on better eating practices. When dentists run across this problem, they usually refer the patient to a doctor and ask that they get medical treatment. 

Treatment of Oral Health Problems that Arise as a Consequence to An Eating Disorder

Dentists really are limited when it comes to treatment for eating disorders, say the specialists at Dental Implants Atlanta. Still they will tell patients about the consequences of this problem, and will request that the patient be extra careful with their  daily personal oral health care. They enphasize oral health care because patients who purge by vomiting do not brush their teeth correctly and expose them to dental erosion.

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