How Eating Disorders Affect Teeth

An estimated 24 million people in the United States are suffering from an eating disorder such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating, according to the Renfrew Center Foundation for eating disorders. Eating disorders often bring serious health problems and are known for having the highest mortality rate of any mental disorder. According to the University of Bergen in Norway, patients with eating disorders are also more likely to suffer from serious dental problems.

Patients with eating disorders are significantly more likely to experience severe dental erosion, which can increase tooth sensitivity. Patients who frequently vomit or who have poor nutrition status are at the highest risk. Vomiting damages dental enamel several ways. As the stomach acids wash over the teeth, they soften the enamel. Many people brush right after vomiting to freshen their breath, but this can scratch and remove softened enamel. Patients who vomit should rinse their mouths with water after vomiting and wait to brush about half an hour. Fluoride toothpaste may help remineralize teeth, and sugar-free gum can stimulate saliva flow and help protect against cavities. A fluoride rinse may be necessary as well, and preventative treatments such as dental sealants or fluoride applications may also be beneficial.

Patients with eating disorders may need more frequent dental visits to manage and maintain their dental health and a treatment plan that includes preventative strategies geared towards their unique smile needs. Contact Dr. Frame, our dentist in Santa Clara, today to learn more or to schedule your appointment.

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