Patients Can’t Hide Eating Disorders From Dentists

While the connection between oral health and systemic health has been well-established, what most people don’t know is that dentists often are in a position to detect systemic conditions. According to an article published in the October 2010 issue of AGD Impact, the monthly newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), dentists may be the first health care providers to notice evidence of an eating disorder, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, binge eating disorder, and pica.

That’s because the first signs of an eating disorder can manifest in the mouth. Sensitivity, tooth erosion, dry mouth, a high number of cavities, and enlarged salivary glands that cause swollen cheeks are signs that a patient may be suffering from an eating disorder.

“The repeated, self-induced vomiting that occurs with many of these patients introduces corrosive stomach acid into the mouth that eats away at the enamel on teeth,” says AGD spokesperson Claire Campbell, DMD, FAGD. “And brushing your teeth immediately after purging may amplify the damage, because you are actually brushing acid onto more tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.”

Another tip-off of an eating disorder is an abundance of cavities over a short period of time. “Patients who binge on high-caloric, high-carbohydrate foods and then purge those foods run the greatest risk of decay,” says Dr. Campbell. “The sugars in those foods cause increased acidity in the mouth, while the purging bathes the teeth in even more acid, an incredibly destructive double whammy.”

Read the full article at PR Newswire.

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