Dental treatment for eating disorders: early warning signs

In addition to having negative effects on the mouth, eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating disorder are also associated with certain negative symptoms, and dental professionals, such as dentists in ventura are often among the first to detect signs of these disorders early on.

There has been a substantial amount of research that shows eating disorders are linked to oral health problems. As a result, The Oral Health Foundation supports Eating Disorders Awareness Week in an effort to raise awareness of this issue.

Throughout this blog post, we will take a look at the main symptoms of each condition in detail, the impact they have on the overall health of your mouth, and how you can seek assistance from your dental team. Throughout this blog post, we will take a look at the main symptoms of each condition in detail, the impact they have on the overall health of your mouth, and how you can seek assistance from your dental team.

Anorexia: what does it mean?

It is characterized by a restriction of food and drinks intake and a fear of gaining weight for individuals with anorexia nervosa. The caloric intake of people with anorexia is frequently seen as a measure of their self-worth, and people with anorexia often punish themselves if they eat too much or the wrong kind of food.

Some people with anorexia also try to lose weight by exercising, vomiting, taking laxatives, or enemas, along with restricting their food intake.

“Every time I ate, I was thinking about calories and food. It was important to me to eat only food that was ‘safe’ and which I felt was okay for me to eat, which included foods with little or no fat or carbohydrates.”

In simple terms, what is bulimia?

An eating disorder characterized by binge-purge patterns, bulimia nervosa is known as binge-purge disorder. As the criteria for diagnosing bulimia are very strict, however, if you are binging regularly for a considerable amount of time, or purging regularly, you must consume a great deal of food/calories in one sitting. You may be taking laxatives or forcing yourself to vomit in order to get rid of your excess calories.

The particular pattern of binge purge varies from patient to patient, but as many people with bulimia are considered to be healthy weights but sufferers of the disorder tend to be overweight, signs often go unnoticed. A person who suffers from bulimia may also experience symptoms such as tiredness, diarrhea, bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular periods as well as other symptoms associated with this disease.

“The thing that used to make me feel not just happy but also satisfied was going to the food closet, fridge or freezer and eating as much as I could, as fast as I could, in an effort to improve my mood and fill the hole I felt inside. I would make myself sick after I had eaten all the food I was supposed to eat, to find out how I would feel physically and emotionally upset and guilty afterward.”


Why do people suffer from binge eating disorders?

The condition of binge eating was previously regarded as a sign of food addiction. However, we now have a better understanding of its causes and effects. An individual who suffers from binge eating will consume large quantities of food and/or drink without feeling in control. These binges may or may not be planned ahead of time, with the sufferer buying specialized foods or they may be spontaneous.

These behaviors aren’t enjoyable and are often extremely distressing and embarrassing for those who suffer from them. Binge eaters aren’t just overindulging in food or just eating large portions, these are not enjoyable experiences.

A binge eating episode is characterized by eating fast, eating excessively, eating large amounts of food when not hungry, eating alone because you feel embarrassed about the amount you are eating, and feeling disgusted, ashamed, or guilty.

A binge eating disorder sufferer does not purge after eating excessively, unlike those suffering from bulimia.


Is your mouth healthy if you have eating disorders?

The negative effects of all these eating disorders should be treated seriously as they affect your health and harm your body.

In addition to shutting down the body, vitamin and nutrient deficiencies can also cause the mouth to malfunction. Eating disorders can be detected through oral signs, such as:

  • Erosive enamel
  • Mundane dryness
  • Glomerulus enlargement
  • Dry lips and cracked lips
  • Sores on the lips
  • Decay of the teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mouth bruises or injuries

Through excessive contact with stomach acid, those who purge by vomiting can also erode their tooth enamel.


Do dental teams have the ability to detect eating disorders?

Dental specialists are well-positioned to recognize eating disorders early on, including dentists, dental hygienists, therapists, and dental nurses.

In a dental check-up, the dentist examines each tooth and examines the soft and hard tissues of the mouth. They also look for signs of tooth erosion and possible mouth injuries caused by forcing objects into your mouth.

Additionally, they will be able to detect problems such as tooth decay and nutrient deficiencies in addition to erosion caused by stomach acid.

They will talk calmly to you about the clinical signs they are seeing in your mouth if they suspect that you might be dealing with an eating disorder, plus they will discuss with you the possibility of prescribing you a high fluoride toothpaste or varnish to protect your teeth from decay if they feel that you might be suffering from one.

Your dental team will be able to provide you with better care if you are open and honest with them.  No matter what symptoms you are experiencing, your dental team will be able to help you and not judge you for them.

Did you suffer from an eating disorder that caused complications with your oral health? Let us know if you are interested. To contact us, please send an email to We need your help to improve oral healthcare for all.

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