When someone has an eating disorder, they become obsessed with the amount of food that they consume. The two most common types of eating disorders are anorexia and bulimia. Individuals who are diagnosed with anorexia want to be thin and are scared of gaining too much weight. They tend to self-induce starvation by making themselves vomit after eating. Sometimes, these individuals are unable to maintain a healthy weight. Individuals with bulimia tend to repeatedly and excessively consume food and then self-induce vomiting afterward (also known as purging).
Regardless of the type of eating disorder an individual has been diagnosed with, his or her body is deprived of essential minerals, vitamins, proteins, and nutrients. Over time, this can result in serious damage to the body, including muscles, major organs, as well as the teeth.
What Are the Oral Health Consequences of Eating Disorders?
There are very severe consequences for your oral health if you have an eating disorder. Vomiting can cause your tooth structure and the enamel to break down. This is because of the acids that are in your digestive system. When that acid comes into contact with your teeth, it will erode your enamel, alter the shape of your teeth, and result in discoloration of your teeth.
Your mouth and throat will also be tender from the self-induced vomiting. In addition, the jaw bone could weaken over time, due to osteoporosis. As a result, teeth could weaken and result in the loss of teeth.
Are There Any Oral-Related Signs of an Eating Disorder?
Individuals who are dealing with an eating disorder will not only act secretive, but they will also show other signs of an eating disorder. While it may be hard to notice some of these symptoms if you are not a dentist, it is particularly easy for a dental professional to identify them. Some of these signs include bad breath, mouth sores, incredibly sensitive teeth, dry mouth and erosion of tooth enamel.
How You Can Restore Your Oral Health After an Eating Disorder
The good news is that it is possible to recover from an eating disorder in terms of your oral health. Aside from seeking treatment for your eating disorder, you also need to take steps to reduce the impact of the stomach acid from the vomiting on your teeth.
You can do this by avoiding brushing right after you vomit so that you aren't brushing the acid directly into your teeth. While you shouldn't brush after vomiting, you can – and should – rinse with a fluoride rinse or water. In addition, you should continue to brush twice daily and floss once a day to maintain regular oral hygiene habits.
Keep in mind that it is important that you undergo the necessary treatment to overcome the eating disorder prior to undergoing any type of cosmetic restoration. However, when you are ready, reach out to a cosmetic dentist to talk about your options for restoring your smile.
Contact a dental office like Clendenon Kirby DDS for more information and assistance.