What Damaged Tooth Enamel Can Tell Us About Eating Disorders
Most people’s biggest worry when they go to the dentist is a cavity or two. But for those who suffer from an eating disorder, there is more on their mind. Damaged tooth enamel can tell a dentist a lot about a person’s eating habits, disorders, and well-being.
Eating Disorders & Tooth Enamel
The effects of eating disorders can cause damage to the teeth and mouth. Both sides of the spectrum, self-starvation and binging, can cause a deficiency in vitamins and nutrients that are necessary for good oral health.
Lack of Vitamins
There are many vitamins that are essential to oral health, all of which are built up through having a balanced diet. Without these vitamins on the teeth, enamel can be damaged indicating a potential eating disorder.
Calcium creates strong jawbones. Without calcium, teeth loosen and are more likely to fall out. If the diet you follow does not have enough calcium in it, or you purge the calcium from your body, your jawbone will take it from your teeth leading to decay and gum disease.
Inadequate Vitamin D
Vitamin D assists your body with the absorption of calcium. Without this important vitamin, you will experience the side effects of a lack of calcium. Vitamin D also acts as an anti-inflammatory to assist your immune system and help combat gum disease.
Iron transports oxygen throughout your body. It helps to create healthy red blood cells which are necessary to fight infections like gum disease and tooth decay.
Dental erosion is mainly caused by overeating, acid reflux, or excessive vomiting. Binge eating in particular creates an excess of stomach acid. With no place to go, this acid backlogs into the esophagus and eventually the mouth. Our mouths are not built for excessive exposure to acid. The acid will burn the oral tissue and start to eat away at your teeth.
Vomiting has a similar effect. It brings the stomach acid repeatedly over your teeth. The acid of the vomit slowly breaks down your tooth enamel, but when purging as constantly as an eating disorder demands, the signs quickly become visible. Enamel can become translucent because of the constant acidic erosion. This increases the risk of tooth decay and cavities.
Enlarged Salivary Glands
An increased amount of vomiting and a bad diet can cause your salivary glands to swell. This decreases their saliva production and causes dry mouth which makes it hard to neutralize the acidity your body naturally creates.
Without the neutralization of your natural mouth acid, you are at an increased risk for cavities, tooth loss, and infections.
Most eating disorders are caused by a psychological obsession with physical appearance and hygiene habits. Combined with the constant brushing after a purge, the over-aggressive brushing schedule can lead to enamel damage.
Right after a purge session, the enamel and other minerals in the teeth are soft and subject to even more erosion. The aggressive brushing session afterwards causes even greater erosion and enamel damage leaving your teeth unprotected.
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