Eating Disorders & Oral Health

Eating Disorders & Oral Health

Vomiting.Millions of people in the United States, particularly teenage girls and young women, suffer from health-threatening eating disorders, and dentists are often the first to spot the signs. Why? The repeated, self-induced vomiting that characterizes bulimia nervosa has a pronounced effect on teeth. Anorexia nervosa (self-starvation) can also have some noticeable effects on oral health.

More than 90% of those with bulimia experience tooth erosion. This is caused by acid from the stomach, which can dissolve the enamel when it comes in contact with teeth during vomiting. Teeth that have lost enamel can appear worn, chip easily, and become sensitive to hot and/or cold. Of course, acid erosion can also affect people who drink a lot of soda, sports drinks and energy drinks — even the diet varieties. But acid erosion in bulimics has a particular pattern: It is evident on the upper front teeth, particularly on the tongue side and biting edges. The bottom teeth, on the other hand, tend to be protected by the tongue when a person throws up.

Once enamel is lost, it can't grow back. But the damage can be repaired with various restorative techniques including veneers and/or crowns. The best treatment will be determined by how extensive the damage is, which in turn depends on how frequently the person has engaged in binge-purge behavior.

To protect teeth in the short term, it is important not to brush them immediately after vomiting as this can scrape off more of the softened enamel. It is better to rinse with water to which a little baking soda has been added, which neutralizes the acid. Even a plain water rinse is helpful. Sometimes a sodium fluoride mouthrinse is recommended to strengthen the enamel and reduce its loss.

Erosion is not the only sign of an eating disorder that a dentist or hygienist may notice. In severe cases the salivary glands can become enlarged, causing the sides of the face under the ears to look puffy. Also, the throat, back of the tongue and roof of the mouth can appear reddened or otherwise traumatized from the use of fingers or other objects to induce gagging. Soft tissues of the mouth can also be damaged by acid.

Only about 20% of anorexics experience tooth erosion, but there are other signs that may become apparent in the dental office. Nutrition and hygiene suffer in general, which in turn can mean more tooth decay and gum disease. There is also considerable overlap between anorexia and bulimia.

If you are struggling with an eating disorder or believe that a loved one is, please let your healthcare professionals know. We will make sure you get the help you need for healthy teeth and a healthy life. You can also visit the National Eating Disorders Association for some helpful information.

Related Articles

Bulimia Anorexia - Dear Doctor Magazine

Bulimia, Anorexia & Oral Health Eating disorders, particularly bulimia nervosa, can leave telltale signs on the teeth that dentists and hygienists are trained to spot. The frequency with which a person engages in binge-purge behavior will determine how seriously the teeth are affected... Read Article

Contact Us

Lenexa Dentist - Lenexa Dental Office

This page provides you with practical information about our practice. It includes descriptions of our office location, including a map and directions, hours, appointment scheduling, insurance acceptance and billing policies.

Lenexa Family Dental
15220 W 87th St Pkwy
Lenexa, KS 66219
Tel: (913) 888-0005

Office Hours
Monday: 08:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 05:30 PM
Tuesday: 07:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 04:30 PM
Wednesday: 08:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 05:30 PM
Thursday: 07:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 04:30 PM
Friday:Every other Friday - 09:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Appointments
We know you have many choices when choosing a Dentist in Lenexa, KS so we have made requesting an appointment a simple process via our Web site. If, for any reason you cannot keep a scheduled appointment, or will be delayed, please call us as soon as possible.

Insurance and Billing
We accept most traditional insurance plans, contact our office to verify acceptance of your plan. Lenexa Family Dental does not participate in Health Management Organizations; however, we will be happy to file your insurance claims for you. We accept checks, cash or credit cards. We also offer a flexible payment plan. Please see our Financial Coordinator for details. We are happy to file insurance for your reimbursement as long as you are free to choose your own dentist.

Payment Options
We accept check, cash, credit cards and Care Credit (Please see below for Care Credit).

Financing Options
Carecredit CareCredit is here to help you pay for treatments and procedures your insurance doesn’t cover. We offer No Interest* financing or low minimum monthly payment options so you can get what you want when you want it. You can even use CareCredit for your family and favorite pet.

With three simple steps, including an instant approval process, it’s easy to apply for CareCredit. After you’re approved, you’re free to use CareCredit for the services you choose including LASIK, veterinary, dentistry, cosmetic, hearing aids and more.

CareCredit is endorsed by some of the most credible organizations specific to each healthcare profession we support. And CareCredit is a GE Money Company, so you know you can count on us. For over 20 years, we’ve been helping over five million cardholders get the healthcare treatments they want and need. Now you don’t have to worry about saving up for the procedures you want and need. With CareCredit, the decision’s in your hands to get what you want, when you want it.

For more information or to apply online, visit carecredit.com, or feel free to contact our office and our financial coordinator would be more than happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.