28. November 2011 14:19
Eating disorders have grown to epic levels is recent years. Some estimate that more than 10 million Americans are affected by an eating disorder. Although it can affect anyone, it seems most common in young adult women and teenagers. These disorders usually have a low self-image issue at its core and can have a serious impact on relationships, overall health, and performance at work.
Anorexia, bulimia, and compulsive overeating are different types of eating disorders. Anorexia usually involves an extreme fear of gaining weight even though they are very thin. Usually they starve themselves and may exercise excessively. Bulimia also involves the fear of being fat, but usually includes periods of binge eating followed by purging themselves either by forcing themselves to "throw up" or by abusing laxatives.
These disorders prevent proper nutrition and create inadequate levels of nutrients, vitamins, proteins needed for good health. Orally this lack of proper nutrition can lead to gingivitis and chronic dry mouth. This lack of saliva can cause an increase decay rate. For those patients that are purging, the strong stomach acid flowing over the teeth can destroy the enamel of the teeth. This is usually first evident on the inside of the upper front teeth. Eventually the front teeth become discolored and prone to chipping.
If a patient is purging they should not brush their teeth immediately, but rinse with baking soda to attempt to neutralize the effects of the stomach acid.
If you have any suspicions about your teenager, you should alert your dentist, so they can evaluate the health of their enamel. Over the years I have had to have discussions twice with families where I discovered enamel erosion consistent with bulimia and the parent were unaware of any issues with their child.