What we eat and drink can affect the health of our teeth and mouth. Eating disorders cause nutritional deficiencies that affect the soft or hard tissues of the mouth and teeth. An eating disorder can sometimes exhibit the first symptoms in the mouth. These effects may be temporary or even permanent, given the severity.
Early detection of an eating disorder may help and make the recovery process easier and more successful. Having the correct information and receiving guidance from your dentist and dental hygienist through recovery is essential.
Gums and oral tissues are more likely to bleed easier with inadequate nutrition. You may experience swollen salivary glands, and your mouth may become drier.
The key nutrients from a balanced diet that promotes oral health are B vitamins, iron and calcium. Low calcium can lead to tooth decay as well as gum disease. Vitamin B aids the body in the absorption of calcium. Low iron levels may cause mouth sores, and low niacin levels contribute to canker sores and bad breath. Overall lack of vitamins can cause dry mouth, dry cracked lips and gingivitis.
In cases of bulimia, which entails frequent vomiting, stomach acids more regularly bathe the teeth, leading to enamel loss and wear. This will cause teeth to become thinner and more yellow in appearance. They may change in shape, become shorter in length, appear more translucent at the edges, and become more brittle and prone to chipping. This process is called erosion. Eroded teeth will feel more sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. They will be more likely to need fillings and even root canals in the future. Be sure not to brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes after vomiting, as this can lead to further damage to the teeth. Rinse your mouth with water to reduce acids.
Purging behaviours can cause trauma to the soft palate (back of the mouth), such as redness, cuts and scratches. This may be a telltale sign to your dentist or dental hygienist, as this area of the mouth rarely receives trauma. Another sign of frequent purging is redness or scraps from the teeth on the knuckles.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums as much as possible is vital, including regular dental visits and daily brushing and flossing. Your dentist and dental hygienist can help you to maintain your oral hygiene throughout the treatment process. Fluoride treatments may help prevent tooth decay and sensitivity. If you are experiencing a dry mouth, a salivary substitute may be recommended.
If you are struggling with an eating disorder or have questions about eating disorders and oral health, we encourage you to contact us today to schedule an appointment.