Eating Disorders and Oral Health

Eating disorders like bulimia are dangerous for a number of reasons. Yet, many people fail to realize just how detrimental they can be to oral hygiene.

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Oral Hygiene?

The mouth is the gateway between the outside world and the stomach. An eating disorder like anorexia may not show many oral warning signs because no food is passing through the mouth. With bulimia, however, the wrong types of food are ingested and then quickly purged. The combination of bad food going in and acidic stomach contents going out almost always leave a mark on the hygiene of the mouth. This can be a great way for concerned parents, friends, and loved ones to identify the presence of an eating disorder and seek help for loved ones.

Early Warning Signs of an Eating Disorder

There are several early warning signs of an eating disorder, but these signs can be easily misinterpreted and confused with other common, less serious ailments. The warning signs that affect oral hygiene, however, are much easier to identify. Because bulimia requires the constant purging of ingested food, side effects such as bad breath and withdrawn gums are quite common. Teeth may also begin to rot, lose their luster, or become discolored because of frequent exposure to stomach acid. Cavities can be caused by the perpetual consumption of high calorie, high carbohydrate, and high sugar foods. These warning signs may all be indicative of a serious eating disorder.

Worst Case Scenario Effects for Oral Hygiene

Prolonged exposure to the high concentrations of acid found in the stomach can easily lead to the death of all the teeth in a person’s mouth. The enamel that surrounds and protects the teeth is not equipped to handle such highly acidic fluid concentrations over such a prolonged period. Similarly, the high carbohydrate and high sugar foods that many people eat when they are dealing with an eating disorder can cause plaque and tartar buildup on the surface of the teeth. These types of food habits are the number one cause of cavities in people from all ages.

There are hundreds of dangerous effects on the human body that can be attributed to a struggle with an eating disorder. The dangers that threaten oral hygiene and the health of the human mouth are just a small sampling of the overall issues. If you or someone you know is dealing with an eating disorder, or if you suspect that a friend has an eating disorder because of oral warning signs, consult a professional for help immediately.

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