Oral health warning signs that may indicate eating disorders

OEating disorders are one of the main mental disorders in the world. According to the ANAD (National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders), at least 9% of the world population is affected by this condition. And, contrary to what you might think, the dentist often assumes a decisive role in the diagnosis and identification of eating disorders in patients.

There are different types of eating disorders. In a statement, the Institute of Implantology highlights three as the most relevant: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. But what is the relationship between these disorders and oral health? Let’s look at the case of bulimia. “This is, in fact, one of the diseases with the greatest impact on the oral cavity and also at a systemic level”, he begins by explaining. He adds: “In bulimia, patients ingest large amounts of food, then eliminate calories through, for example, physical exercise, diuretic products or by regurgitation (vomiting)”. “The frequent existence of this flow (vomit) in the oral cavity can result in severe damage to the teeth, which we call dental erosion.”

This is due to the PH of the stomach, which is much more acidic. As saliva does not have the time to control this environment, lesions appear on the teeth.

Thus, dental tissues are eventually affected and, little by little, patients begin to experience side effects on their oral health, such as increased tooth sensitivity. “In the long term, it will even end up damaging the structure of the teeth”, warns the Institute of Implantology.

Therefore, “we always recommend to patients that after an episode of this kind, that is, from an acid stimulus, they do not immediately brush their teeth after it”. You should rather rinse with water or an elixir.

Here are some warning signs that parents should especially be aware of:

  • Frequent trips to the bathroom after meals;
  • Scars or calluses on the fingers (caused by the induction of vomiting in the mouth and which later cause lesions on the roof of the mouth);
  • Constant concerns related to the number of calories ingested;
  • Exaggerated practice of physical exercise;
  • Weight fluctuations;
  • Social isolation.

Read Also: Doctor explains: Living with anorexia, a disease that kills the body and mind

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