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How Eating Disorders Influence Oral Health

Eating disorders are a health and wellness concern for all fields of the medical profession, out of concern for the people affected by these problems. Besides unhealthy weight loss and the damage it causes, these disorders also harm the teeth and gums. What are some warning signs that our Yuba City family dentist sees when examining a patient with an eating disorder?

Eating Disorders and Bleeding Gums

When a patient has anorexia or bulimia, bleeding gums are common for two reasons. First, because the body is not receiving enough proper nutrition, the gums bleed easily. Secondly, dry mouth is a side effect of both vitamin deficiency and frequent vomiting. Dry mouth then leads to bad breath and gum disease.

Bulimia and Oral Consequences

Binging and purging from bulimia leads to enlarged salivary glands. If left untreated, enlarged salivary glands may become painful and cause distress. Frequent vomiting over a long period of time damages tooth enamel, especially in the molars, leading to enamel erosion and tooth loss.

Purging also scars the soft palate. When a patient’s soft palate is scratched, red, or appears to have cuts, this indicates that the patient could be suffering from bulimia. This scarring is usually caused by the fingers when the person physically forces themselves to vomit.

The Importance of Dental Care for Eating Disorders

Even if a patient does not disclose that they have an eating disorder, the dentist is usually the first to know about this often hidden problem. While respecting rules of confidentiality, our caring dental staff encourages patients to be honest with themselves and our staff so that we can give you the best dental care. Tooth damage requires professional dental intervention to prevent decay and the loss of the tooth.

If you have an eating disorder, seek treatment and continue to maintain a daily oral care routine. After vomiting, rinse the mouth thoroughly with water, before brushing the teeth. This lessens the effect of acid erosion on the enamel. Dental reconstruction is available for patients with missing teeth due to complications from eating disorders. For further help, contact us to make an appointment for a consultation and exam.


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