Eating Disorders and Dentistry


It’s a sad reality. Many individuals suffer from eating disorders. The dentist is often the first to detect this.

Anorexia Nervosa and Purging are just two of these disorders. They are most common in women between the ages of 12 to 25.

The Cycle 

It’s a vicious cycle, one that the affected person cannot get away from. Vomiting results in an increase of gastric acid in the mouth. The acid causes the enamel layer of the tooth to dissolve.

It is a cumulative effect that happens little by little over the years. The upper front teeth are affected the most. They become thin, sensitive and more prone to chipping. They also change in color, shape and length.

Aside from tooth erosion, common symptoms include:
1) Tooth sensitivity
2) Dry mouth
3) Tooth decay
4) Enlarged salivary glands
5) Bad breath

Why an Increase in Tooth Decay?
People who binge tend to eat a lot of carbohydrates.

The ‘carbs’ are broken down by bacteria in the mouth, resulting in acids. If this occurs repeatedly, then the frequent acid attacks cause ‘tooth decay’.

An increase in acids from the carbs that are eaten, combined with an increase in stomach acid from the purging, result in more tooth wear…a vicious cycle.

How can we Reduce the effects of the Purging?

1) Ideally stop purging. I know, easier said than done, but some type of therapy may be helpful. You have to start somewhere.

2) Try to rinse your mouth with soda water, baking soda or sugar-free mouth rinse. This can neutralize the effects of the stomach acids. It is best not to brush after purging as the mechanical action of brushing may cause an increase in tooth wear; rinsing is better.

The Goal
Aside from controlling the purging, we are trying to decrease the effects that the acids have on the teeth.

In extreme cases of tooth wear, it is often necessary to place full coverage restorations (crowns) on the affected teeth. This helps to deal with the ‘wear’ as the enamel is not exposed to the acids anymore. This may be a good time to review the crown blog posted on August 19th, 2012.

The real solution is to deal with the problem.

Yours in good dental health,

Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry

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