National Eating Disorders Awareness Week
You may have heard, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.” This is so true as I look into someone’s mouth. I can almost always tell whether he or she has an eating disorder from the reflection staring back at me from his or her teeth and gums.
While anorexia, bulimia, binge and compulsive overeating disorders are by nature of the illnesses — closely guarded secrets — for the millions of people suffering, the teeth are often tattle tales, AND gums and tongues never lie to me! We often single out women and teen aged girls when we think about unhealthy and deadly eating issues, but men and boys are also vulnerable.
Lacking in proper nutrition, gums and other soft tissue inside the mouth may bleed easily. The glands that produce saliva may swell and individuals may experience chronic dry mouth.
Throwing up frequently can also affect teeth. When strong stomach acid repeatedly flows over teeth, the tooth’s enamel can be lost to the point that the teeth change in color, shape and length. The edges of teeth become thin and break off easily. Eating hot or cold food or drink may become uncomfortable.
I often see patients with eating disorders addicted to sodas. Carbonated beverages for those suffering from and anorexia, bulimia can be crutches of denial when used to disguise and ignore the symptoms of poor nutrition and the teeth suffer! The enamel on the back of the teeth becomes completely eroded. It’s no wonder why some law enforcement use sodas to clean blood from roadways! Excessive soda drinking can also result in greater sensitivity, shortened lifespan for your teeth, potential for TMJ issues and possible tooth loss.
The only good news in the sad statistics which reveal the average ages of anorexia, bulimia and binge eating beginning in early adulthood, is that preventative measures and positive oral health practices for protecting teeth and gums can be implemented early on. Dentists and hygienists should be on high alert for eating disorders during exams and cleanings, so an honest and confidential dialogue for helping patients can occur.
Tips To Implement
Do not brush for 40-60 minutes after consuming sodas or after vomiting. Instead, rinse with alkaline water to neutralized the acidity (add some baking soda to regular water)
Trust your dentist. Ask for help.
My hope is that this week’s national focus on healing will give you comfort in knowing you are not alone. Here are some tools to help you in making a courageous decision to prevent or overcome your eating disorder.
First and foremost–change comes from education. Let’s help our children build healthy body esteem.
Fantastic tools and resources available on these websites:
In great health,
Contact Dr. Sanda Moldovan to schedule a consultation.