Your dietary habits play a big role in your oral health. In fact, changes in your mouth are often the first physical manifestations of an eating disorder that can eventually result in permanent damage to your teeth, gums, and jawbone. That's why early detection is so important with eating disorders as it can help ensure that the negative effects to your physical, mental, and oral health can be addressed in a timely manner before conditions go from bad to worse.
What Are Eating Disorders?
Eating disorders include a range of psychological conditions related to unhealthy eating habits caused by an obsession with food, body weight, and body shape. They include anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating, among others. They are complex conditions that almost always require the care of medical and psychological professionals to alter their course. However, they also often require professional oral health care due to their detrimental effects on the teeth and gums. In general, eating disorders are associated with symptoms like food restriction, as well as binging or purging behaviors such as overeating and vomiting. All of these behaviors can contribute to poor oral health.
How Do Eating Disorders Affect Oral Health?
Eating disorders can negatively affect your oral health in a variety of ways. Typically, when binging, or eating excessive amounts of food, someone with an eating disorder will eat foods they would normally avoid if trying to maintain a healthy diet. This includes foods high in sugar that can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, and even tooth loss in the later stages. Eating disorders also contribute to malnutrition that can cause these same conditions. Binge eating is most often followed by forced vomiting, which causes teeth to be repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, breaking down tooth enamel. In addition, repetitive vomiting can cause loss of soft oral tissues and loss of bone mass in the jawbones.
All of these conditions can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. One contributor to bone loss in the temporomandibular joint of the jaw is degenerative arthritis, a common result of eating disorders. In addition to the relationship between eating disorders and your mental health and bodily health, there is a strong relationship between them and poor oral health. For more information about eating disorders and their effects on the mouth, contact our office to schedule a visit.