Eating Disorders & Your Oral Health

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Food. We can’t survive without it’s nourishment, and it can bring us comfort and pleasure. But for some, biting into a sweet crisp apple and having its clear juice filling their mouth may not bring pleasure. The thought of eating food can trigger a paralyzing fear for some people, while others could experience a momentary joy, followed by an agonizing guilt forcing them to purge. But these habits can harm, not only your body overall, but your mouth as well.

The first thing we would like you to understand is that while you may feel alone, you’re not. It has been estimated that somewhere around 30 million Americans suffer from an eating disorder of some kind. It can be difficult to determine an exact number because many people suffer from these conditions silently.

Eating disorders can include anorexia nervosa, binge eating and bulimia, all of which can have harmful consequences on your mouth. If you suffer from anorexia, you may have such an extreme fear of gaining weight that you excessively limit your food intake and might be driven to purge. You may be severely underweight. Those who have bulimia may overeat uncontrollably several times a week, followed by self-induced purging. Similarly, binge eaters can overeat in short periods of time but unlike bulimics, they don’t purge out of the fear of gaining weight, but from the guilt they might feel from eating so excessively.

What can this mean for your mouth?
If you have any of these eating disorders, you may not be able to get the key nutrients that you need to maintain good oral health. Your salivary glands can become enlarged and tender, and you could have a dry mouth—which may lead to another host of dental problems. You might also have dry or cracked lips, and even sores on the mouth could be possible.

If you are frequently purging, your stomach acids can erode the enamel of your teeth, leaving them vulnerable to decay and damage. Despite what you might believe, you should not brush your teeth immediately after throwing up. The enamel of your teeth may be weakened, and brushing could do more harm than good at this point. Instead, Dr. Khashayar Khomejany suggests that you rinse your mouth with water and wait about half an hour before using a neutralizing paste like baking soda to brush away the remaining stomach acid in your mouth. You can also experience sensitive teeth.

For more information about eating disorders in Vacaville, California, please contact one of our friendly team members at Vacaville Dental Studio at 707-448-5339. We would love to help get you back on the road to better dental health.