Many Americans are affected by eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating. It is often the pain and discomfort related to dental complications that first causes patients to consult with a health professional. Dentists are often the first health professionals to observe signs and symptoms of eating disorders.
Anorexia-Involves an extreme fear of weight gain or a dread of becoming “fat” even though these individuals are markedly underweight.
Bulimia-Discrete periods of overeating (binge eating) which may occur several times a week or at its most severe, several times a day. This leads to self-vomiting.
Binge Eating-Binge eating may involve rapid consumption of large amounts of food with a sense of loss of control. Feelings of guilt and shame may lead to repeated episodes of binge eating.
Eating disorders that may include frequent vomiting and may result in nutritional deficiencies can also affect oral health. Salivary glands may become enlarged. Lips are often red, dry and cracked. Lesions may appear on oral soft tissues which may also bleed easily. There may be changes in the color, shape and length of teeth. Teeth may become sensitive to hot and cold foods.
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