image0144More than 10 million Americans currently suffer from severe eating disorders. These include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating, which are most common with teen and young adult women. Eating disorders, without a doubt, contribute to a large negative impact on the individuals life. They also can create major health complications such as heart conditions, kidney failure and in severe cases death. These disorders greatly affect ones oral hygiene and cause serious pain, which in turn causes the individual to seek an oral healthcare professional.

According to the American Dental Association, “Dentists are often the first health professionals to observe signs and symptoms of eating disorders.” Bulimia occurs when one indulges in overeating, usually behind closed doors. After they consume more calories than they would of liked to, they purge to compensate for the overeating and to prevent any weight gain. “Studies have found that up to 89% of bulimic patients show signs of tooth erosion” (American Dental Association, 2015).

Eating disorders that include continual vomiting can deplete the body of the essential nutrients needed for a healthy life. These nutritional deficiencies play a huge role in affecting ones oral health. Salivary glands can become very large and swollen. Many individuals suffer from xerostomia, a condition where your mouth is unusually dry, due to the lack of saliva. Lips become very red, dry and crack easily. Teeth changes color and can become transparent. It can also alter the shape and length of the teeth. Erosions occurs on the surrounding enamel, causing the teeth to develop a sensitivity to temperatures. As time goes on, the swelling of the salivary gland will cause the individuals jaw to widen, appearing to be square.

Many factors cause an eating disorder to arise, such as physical, emotional and social issues. Family and friends are the best solution for preventing these problems, by offering positive feedback about healthy eating. Eating disorders mainly focus on body image but the it’s underlying layer that attacks the individuals health. The stuff you can’t physically see, the interior deterioration and the decline of your oral hygiene. So if you know someone with an eating disorder it’s important you seek them help. “The early diagnosis and intervention will greatly improve the opportunities for recovery” (American Dental Association, 2015).

“Anorexia Nervosa (Eating Disorders).” Oral Health Topics. American Dental Association. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.