Anorexia and bulimia are two eating disorders that plague over 10 million Americans. These disorders can negatively affect self-image, relationships, and performance in school or work. These disorders also affect physical health by causing the body to feel cold, lose hair, or develop more serious conditions like heart complications and kidney failure. These eating disorders affect all aspects of health, including oral health.
The Effects Of Eating Disorders On Oral Health
Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia can negatively impact the health of your mouth in the following ways:
- The oral tissues won’t receive enough nutrients and may bleed or develop lesions.
- The salivary glands can swell due to misused laxatives/diuretics or frequent vomiting. This can cause a dry mouth which increasing the chances of tooth decay.
- Bad breath may develop.
- The stomach acids from purging wear away at tooth enamel. This results in decay, tooth sensitivity, transparency of teeth, or a change in their shape.
- Lips can become red and cracked.
- If one has an eating disorder for a long time, then osteoporosis may develop. This can affect the jaw bone and cause teeth to fall out.
Protecting Oral Health
The best way to prevent these dental health problems—or to reverse them in some cases—is to treat the eating disorder. Seek support from family and friends as you undergo treatment. Some other ways you can protect your teeth from the effects of an eating disorder include:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth.
- Flossing between your teeth at least once a day.
- Rinsing your mouth with baking soda and water after vomiting (which neutralizes the acids).
- Visiting your dentist regularly and asking for advice on maintaining your dental health.