It’s estimated that more than 1 million people in the UK have some sort of eating disorder, and although it can affect anyone at any age it’s most prevalent amongst the 14 to 25 age group. It’s something that’s more likely to affect women and girls as they are up to 10 times more likely to have an eating disorder compared to men or boys. Unfortunately it can be very difficult for people with an eating disorder to discuss it with others, but it can have a hugely detrimental effect on health, including oral health.
Oral Health Changes Caused by Eating Disorders
People with eating disorders are likely to be nutritionally deficient, and without the proper nutrients the gums and soft tissues are likely to bleed more easily and will be less able to heal properly. Eating disorders can also affect the saliva glands as they are more likely to become swollen, and sufferers may experience a condition called dry mouth or xerostomia.
Those who are bulimic and who throw up at frequent intervals are likely to notice changes in their teeth quite quickly. If the strong stomach acids are repeatedly flowing over the teeth then acid erosion will quickly occur, causing tooth enamel to be permanently lost. It is likely the teeth will change shape and may become shorter as they begin to look more worn. The biting edges are likely to become a lot sharper and thinner and may break off or crumble. Teeth can also look darker or almost discoloured and the reason for this is that more of the dentine layer will be exposed. This contains the natural tooth colour and is normally covered by quite a thick layer of enamel, especially in younger people which is the reason why their teeth tend to appear whiter than those of someone older.
If you have an eating disorder then it’s quite likely it will be noticed by our dentist in Leeds City Dentalcare, but you can rest assured you’ll receive sympathetic treatment. Dr David Brown or any of our dentists will do everything possible to help you try to maintain and improve your oral health. We can offer treatment for the effects of acid corrosion on your teeth, as well as practical advice on how to deal with the effects of having an eating disorder.
Looking After Your Teeth
It’s really important to be meticulous about your oral health care when you’re in the grips of this kind of disorder, but if you do throw up its best to rinse your mouth with a solution of baking soda immediately afterwards as this will help to neutralise the effects of the stomach acid. Wait a while before brushing your teeth as this will allow the pH levels in your mouth to return to normal, hopefully enabling your tooth enamel to re-harden slightly as it re-mineralises.
If throwing up has affected your saliva glands and you find yourself frequently suffering from dry mouth then we can also offer some practical advice to help you deal with this side effect. For instance there are various over-the-counter saliva substitutes that can help keep your mouth more moist and comfortable and which will help to lessen the effects on your teeth. You’ll also find it will help to make sure you drink plenty of plain water so you remain well hydrated. Chewing sugar-free gum or sucking a sugar-free sweet will help to stimulate the flow of saliva. Saliva is important as it helps to keep the pH levels within your mouth fairly neutral, something that is vital if your teeth are continuingly being exposed to stomach acid.
Are looking for a preventive and cosmetic dentistry in Leeds? Although we cannot cure eating disorders, we can work with you to help minimise the effects while you hopefully receive help from healthcare professionals to resolve this issue.