Eating Disorders and Oral Health

eatAccording to the National Eating Disorder Association 10 million American women suffer from some type of eating disorder. Men suffer from eating disorders, too. According to a Newsweek survey, 40 percent of 131 Cornell University football players engaged in bingeing and purging, in order to help stay in shape.  Eating disorders can last from one to over 15 years. Today, your Livonia, MI dentist, Dr. James Stewart, discusses eating disorders and their effect on oral health.

Eating Disorders

Although eating disorders are a serious health problem the subject is often avoided. As a dentist it would be remiss to ignore the fact that eating disorders are a serious problem in our society. There are two major types of eating disorders which can affect your oral health.

  • Anorexia: People with anorexia fear becoming over weight. Even if they are severely underweight they still suffer this fear. At its severest, people may refuse to eat. Other times they will limit their food intake and use laxatives, enemas, diuretics, or vomit to avoid gaining weight.
  • Bulimia: Those suffering from bulimia binge on sweets and other unhealthy foods, eating excessively in short episodes throughout the day or week, then quickly purge the food from their system by vomiting.

Oral Affects of Eating Disorders

Eating disorders affect your oral health in two ways. By limiting food intake and/or purging, your body does not get the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs. Under such conditions it cannot function effectively and may eventually completely shut down. In fact, the death rate for those with serious eating disorders who go untreated is as high as 20 percent.  Secondly, for those who purge, or vomit, the repeated regurgitation of stomach acid erodes the teeth.  Oral signs of eating disorders include:

About Dr. Stewart

James R. Stewart, Jr, DDS, PC and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. To schedule an appointment, call our office today at (734) 425-4400.