Eating Disorders Can Affect Kid’s Teeth
Eating disorders can affect kid’s teeth, as well as lead to serious consequences to other aspects of oral health. Eating disorders, such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating, affect over 10 million Americans, most of whom are teenagers and young women. In many cases, a dental professional is the first to identify the signs of an eating disorder because of the oral complications caused by the condition.
Because people who suffer from eating disorders are often dealing with feelings of shame, it is important for them to know that the pediatric dentists at Kids Dental are here to help our patients in a non-judgmental atmosphere by educating them on how to have good oral health no matter what they may be struggling with. Here are some Tips & Safety recommendations.
How Can Eating Disorders Affect Oral Health?
Eating disorders often involve improper nutrition which deprives the patient of the critical protein, vitamins, and minerals to maintain good oral health. If the diet is severely limited, as it typically is in cases of anorexia, the patient may not be getting an adequate amount of calcium and vitamin D necessary to keep teeth strong.
Anorexia can result in:
- Bleeding gums
- Periodontal disease (gingivitis)
- Dry mouth (xerostomia) or dry, chapped lips (due to dehydration)
- Dental cavities
- Mouth sores and bad breath (from insufficient iron and niacin)
- Jaw bone deterioration (due to osteoporosis)
Patients with a binge eating disorder engage in excessive overeating and often continue the
cycle due to feelings of guilt or shame. When binge eating is habitual, patients may indulge in
especially unhealthy foods that have excessive amounts of sugar which can ultimately result in
Bulimia is an eating disorder which typically involves compulsive overeating followed by purging
(vomiting) to rid oneself of the calories in order to avoid weight gain. This frequent vomiting
repeatedly exposes the teeth to corrosive stomach acids which can weaken and erode the
enamel. Enamel erosion often begins on the inside of the front teeth within six months of
Research shows that over 80% of bulimia patients experience tooth erosion, which can
eventually cause teeth to appear shiny, yellow, thin, or transparent at the tips.
Other oral complications of bulimia can include:
- Tooth sensitivity (due to erosion)
- Tooth decay
- Soft palate damage
- Swollen salivary glands
- Oral lesions
- Tenderness in the mouth or throat
- Tooth pulp death
In addition, patients with bulimia often brush, or even overbrush, their teeth immediately after
purging, which can compound damage because the regurgitated acid leaves the teeth
susceptible to further erosion for a short time afterward.
At Kids Dental, we offer comprehensive, family-centered pediatric dental care in a child-
friendly nurturing environment. If you are looking for a place to call your dental home,
please schedule a consultation with one of our pediatric dentists by completing
an Online Appointment Request or calling either office.