3 Ways That Eating Disorders Cause Dental Damage

Eating disorders are serious health problems that are often taken too lightly. The truth is that eating disorders damage almost every part of the body, and they can be fatal if they are left untreated. In fact, for women between the ages of 15 and 24 who have anorexia nervosa, the eating disorder carries a risk of death 12 times higher than all other causes of death.

However, any male or female in any age group can suffer from eating disorders. This makes it important to understand the facts and the damage caused by such illnesses. You may be surprised to learn that these disorders can significantly damage teeth, gums, and oral tissue. Read on to discover the correlation between eating disorders and oral health.

1. Poor Diets Cause Nutrient Deficiencies

Calcium and vitamin D are essential for having strong and healthy teeth. Many foods and beverages contain these nutrients; some examples include milk, cheese, eggs, and fatty fish. Unfortunately, individuals with eating disorders such as anorexia do not consume a proper amount of nutrients each day. When the body does not get enough vitamin D and calcium, tooth decay is more likely to occur. Painful or uncomfortable gum disease like gingivitis is more likely to occur, too.

2. Purging Erodes Teeth and Oral Tissue

Purging or vomiting occurs in people who have bulimia. Bulimia nervosa sufferers binge-eat or eat normal amounts of food and then quickly purge the food from their bodies. When this happens through vomiting, the individual's teeth are exposed to stomach acid. Stomach acid rapidly wears down the enamel on teeth, which protects teeth from decay, sensitivity, and numerous other problems. Stomach acid may also cause irritated gums and sores within the mouth.

3. Swollen Saliva Glands Cause Dry Mouth

Binge-eating and purging commonly cause the saliva glands to swell. A lack of nutrients also cause this problem, so both anorexia and bulimia may lead to enlarged saliva glands. This can lead to problems like chronic dry mouth; dry mouth is often a source of halitosis. Additionally, swollen glands can be physically painful or uncomfortable for those who experience them.

Treating Oral Health When Recovering from an Eating Disorder

Eating-disorder treatment may involve inpatient care, psychiatric care, counseling, group therapy, and medication management. Fortunately, it is possible to recover from these devastating illnesses with proper care and a strong support team. Additionally, the damage caused to teeth and gums can be treated, too. A dentist will come up with a care plan specifically designed to treat the needs of an individual recovering from an eating disorder. Consult a dentist, such as one from Milner Dentistry, for more information about how eating disorders affect oral health.