Surprisingly, more than 10 million Americans alone are currently affected by severe eating disorders such as bulimia, anorexia, and binge eating. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, eating disorders affect many and need immediate attention.
While anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, they are prevalent in young adult women and even teenagers. In addition to having a negative impact on your health and quality of life, eating disorders affect your self-image.
The disorder can also affect your social life, like your relationships with friends and families and your performance in school or at work. If you suffer from an eating disorder, it is essential to talk to your dentist.
Eating disorders can also severely affect your oral health. Keep reading to find out more about how eating disorders can affect your oral health.
Types of Eating Disorders
Eating disorders are dangerous psychological conditions in which a person’s negative feelings, often about their food or body, affect their eating behavior. An individual with an eating disorder might eat too little food or have sessions where they overeat and then eliminate what has been eaten.
At other times, some individuals with eating disorders may overeat. All of these abnormal eating behaviors can create a host of severe health problems, including oral problems. Indeed, the state of the mouth might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the term eating disorder. But people must be aware of the risks.
This anorexia disorder typically involves an extreme fear of gaining weight or a person’s dread of becoming fat. Even though these people may be very thin or even extremely underweight, they see themselves as fat.
These people may even attempt to reach or maintain what they think is their perfect body weight. They can even achieve this by literally starving themselves. You might also find these people exercise excessively.
Others might eat excessive amounts of food in one sitting. Such people may even attempt to get rid of the calories from their bodies by forcing themselves to “throw up” or by the misuse of enemas or laxatives. It is a very extreme case and you might need to consult a doctor immediately.
2 Binge Eating or Compulsive Overeating
This may affect anyone, men as women. Such people are sometimes described as ‘food addicts’. These people overeat or binge eat but do not regularly try to get rid of the food immediately. They do not try throwing up or misuse laxatives or enemas. Feelings of guilt may make it easier for the person to overeat again.
Like anorexia, bulimia is also a disorder that includes the fears of being overweight. But this condition also includes hidden periods of overeating quite similar to binge eating. Overeating may occur several times a week or even several times a day.
When overeating, individuals often may feel entirely out of control. They may gulp down hundreds of calories, often high in fat and carbohydrates. The amount of food they eat would be greater than what an average person would eat in a meal.
After they overeat, they are guilty and try to “undo” that they ate too much. They quickly force themselves to “throw up” or try using drugs like laxatives or enemas. This is often called – binging and purging.
Why is Binge Eating Disorder Harmful?
Binge eating is quite similar to bulimia nervosa. It involves the compulsive eating of large quantities of food in a short period but without subsequent purging. The disorder involves periods of excess food intake followed by feelings of shame, guilt, and depression. This negative feeling leads to further binge eating.
Such people actively seek methods to rid themselves of the excess calories eaten during binge eating episodes. If not treated, the process can lead to a gain in weight despite frequent dieting. Finally, the person will become clinically obese.
Moreover, binge eating disorders can also affect your self-image, relationships with family members and friends. If you suffer from this disorder, talking to your dentist in detail is essential. Binge eating can lead to dental health problems.
Binge eaters were previously classified as food addicts. Such people usually take in large quantities of food or beverages without feeling like they are in control of what they are consuming. These binges are most of the time planned ahead when the person buys “special” foods to binge on, or they could also be spontaneous.
Multiple studies have proved that binge eating disorders can have an adverse effect on oral health. Hence Oral Health Foundation is supporting Eating Disorders Awareness in its mission.
One important aspect is that binge eaters do not “overindulge” in foods. Or they do not simply just have large portions of food items. These are not enjoyable experiences. Instead, they often cause a lot of embarrassment and distress to the eater.
Another noticeable characteristic of binge eating episodes includes eating faster than usual. The disorder also includes eating until feeling uncomfortably full. Moreover, binge eaters eat alone and feel embarrassed at the amount they eat. They also have a feeling of shame, disgust, or guilt after the binge.
Binge Eating Disorders Lead to Dental Problems
The disorder includes conditions when the binge eater eats large amounts of food when not feeling hungry. Without the proper nutrition, your gums and other soft tissue inside the mouth might start to bleed easily. The glands producing saliva might swell, and individuals might experience chronic dry mouth.
If you throw up frequently, it can affect teeth too. That is because when strong stomach acid repeatedly flows over teeth, your tooth’s enamel can be lost. You might also notice a change in shape, color, and length. The condition is know as as acid reflux. The edges of teeth can become thin and break off easily. Eating hot or cold food or drink might become uncomfortable.
Binge eating disorder can badly affect your oral health. Sensitive teeth, tooth erosion, and bad breath are just a few of the signs that your dentists might notice when you are suffering from an eating disorder.
Here are a few of the problems that might arise.
1 Tooth Decay
2 Tooth Erosion
Binge eaters tend to have symptoms like the thinning of the enamel on the front teeth due to tooth erosion. When you purge, the stomach acid travels through the mouth. This acid erodes the backside of your front teeth heavily.
3 Tooth Sensitivity
4 Insufficient Calcium
Calcium plays a role in building strong and healthy teeth. Lack of calcium causes teeth to loosen up and possibly fall out. If you do not get enough calcium from a nutritious diet, your body will draw calcium from your teeth and bones, making them weak.
5 Dry mouth
Poor nutrition or vomiting can cause your salivary glands to swell and decrease production. This could lead to chronic dry mouth, thus making it hard to neutralize the acidity in your mouth. You will have a higher risk for cavities, tooth loss, and infections in your mouth.
Recommended Treatment – Binge Eating Disorders
Your dentist is the right person to recognize any early warning signs of binge eating disorders. During your dental examination, they generally carry out checks on the soft and hard tissues of your mouth.
They also look for signs of tooth decay and tooth erosion and any possible injuries to your mouth. Mouth injuries might have been caused by forcing food into the mouth to make yourself vomit.
Your dentist can also detect any tooth erosion through stomach acid. They can also identify tooth decay from excessive sugar consumption and signs of nutrient deficiencies, if any.
If your dentist suspects that you are suffering from a binge eating disorder, they will talk to you calmly. Your dentist will prescribe a high fluoride toothpaste or varnish to protect your teeth from further decay.
One of the most helpful things your dentist can do is offer detailed instructions about proper oral hygiene. Additionally, your dentist can provide a customized treatment plan for your existing oral problems related arisen due to binge eating disorders. They can also offer restorative work that might be required for people recovering from binge eating disorders includes:
- Fluoride treatment plans are based on your needs.
- Remedies for the dry mouth, if any.
- Restorative enamel treatments if you have enamel loss and tooth sensitivity issues.
- Root canal treatment or cavity fillings to treat decayed teeth.
- Gum treatments for periodontitis or other gum diseases.
- Dental veneers for damaged teeth.
Along with these restorative treatments, frequent preventive dental visits are also necessary. These visits will help monitor your progress and identify any other dental problems that might arise.
Your dental health is important. Having a binge eating disorder should not stop you from getting the care you need. You can discuss all your dental problems with your dentist. Letting your dentist know that you are struggling with a binge eating disorder will have many benefits.
That can help address complications, alleviate symptoms, and assist you in taking steps required to regain control of your mental and physical health.