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Dental Complications of Eating Disorders

Posted Jul 20 2010 8:15am

  • The frequent vomiting and nutritional deficiencies
    that often accompany eating disorders can have severe consequences on one’s
    oral health. Studies have found that up to 89% of bulimic patients show signs
    of tooth erosion.

  • Did You Know?

    It is often the pain and discomfort
    related to dental complications that first causes patients to consult with a
    health professional. Dental hygienists and dentists are often the first health
    professionals to observe signs and symptoms of disordered eating habits.

    However, recent studies cite two
    deterrents to dental practitioners addressing eating concerns with their

    • Lack of knowledge
      of the scope and severity of eating disorders, and
    • Lack
      of comfort in discussing their concerns or suspicions.

    In spite of these deterrents, the role of dental practitioners in early
    detection, identification, and intervention is crucial. This information is
    being provided to enable dental practitioners to recognize the effects of
    eating disorders and talk with their patients about these concerns.

    Signs and Symptoms

    • Loss of tissue and
      erosive lesions on the surface of teeth due to the effects of acid. These
      lesions can appear as early as 6 months from the start of the problem.
    • Changes in the
      color, shape, and length of teeth. Teeth can become brittle, translucent,
      and weak.
    • Increased
      sensitivity to temperature. In extreme cases the pulp can be exposed and
      cause infection, discoloration, or even pulp death.
    • Enlargement of the
      salivary glands, dry mouth, and reddened, dry, cracked lips.
    • Tooth decay, which
      can actually be aggravated by extensive tooth brushing or rinsing
      following vomiting.
    • Unprovoked,
      spontaneous pain within a particular tooth.

    Visit for more information.

  • Katie Goode, M.A., MFC 45129
    Eating Disorder and Anxiety Specialist
    26060 Acero, Mission Viejo, CA 92691
    (949) 395-7161

    Follow me on Twitter at
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