Effect of Binge Eating Disorder on Oral Health

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According to a survey, you would be surprised to know that there are over a million impacted by eating disorders. Some individuals consider them a lifestyle choice or coping mechanism. In reality, they are serious health concerns as binge eating disorder can lead to severe or potentially fatal psychological and physical illnesses.

Anyone can indeed suffer from an eating disorder, but they are most common in teenagers and young adult women. This disorder often has a negative impact on one’s health and quality of life.

There are several complications of eating disorders, and they can also impact your dental health. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, do you know that bulimia nervosa, anorexia nervosa, and binge eating are the three most recognized eating disorders? 

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Eating disorders like binge eating disorders can have adverse effects on the mouth. Their symptoms can range from slight to severe, and your dentist is often among the first to identify possible red flags. In this article, we will look at what the main symptoms of this condition are. And how they can affect the health of your mouth and how your dental team can help you.

What is Binge Eating Disorder?

Binge eating is quite similar to bulimia nervosa, which involves the compulsive eating of large amounts of food in a short period but without subsequent purging. The disorder involves periods of excess food intake, but it instead triggers feelings of guilt, shame, and depression. This negative feeling, in turn, can lead to further binge eating.

You should actively seek methods to rid yourselves of the excess calories eaten during your binge eating episode. If not addressed, you can commonly gain weight despite frequent dieting. Finally, becoming clinically obese.

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In addition, binge eating disorder can also affect your self-image, relationships with families and friends. If you suffer from a binge eating disorder, talking to your dentist in detail is important. Binge eating, like others, does share some dental health impacts. It has its particular concerns for maintaining good oral health.

Binge eaters were previously classified as food addicts, although there is a greater understanding of the condition. Binge eaters often take in large quantities of food or drink without feeling like they are in control of what they are eating. These binges can be planned ahead of time with the person buying “special” foods to binge on, or they could also be spontaneous.

Multiple studies have shown binge eating disorders can have an adverse effect on oral health. That is the reason why the Oral Health Foundation is supporting Eating Disorders Awareness in its mission.  

Binge Eating Disorder – Important Facts

One important aspect is that binge eaters are not “overindulging” in foods. Or they are not simply just having large portions of food items. These are not enjoyable experiences and often cause a lot of embarrassment and distress to the eater. 

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Few noticeable characteristics of a binge eating episode include eating faster than normal. The disorder also includes eating until feeling uncomfortably full or eating large amounts of food when not feeling hungry. In addition, binge eaters eat alone through embarrassment at the amount they are eating. They also have a feeling of disgust, shame, or guilt after the binge.

Impact of Binge Eating Disorder on Teeth and the Mouth

Binge eating disorder can also affect your oral health. Sensitive teeth, bad breath, and tooth erosion are just a few of the signs that your dentists might use to determine whether you are suffering from an eating disorder. 

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In addition, harsh stomach acid from frequent vomiting will wear away your tooth enamel, increasing your risk of tooth decay. Moreover, the lack of nutrients can weaken your jaw bone, weakening teeth and leading to tooth loss.

An eating disorder might cause temporary or permanent damage to your teeth. Self-starvation or bingeing and purging often leads to a deficiency in vital nutrients like iron, calcium, and vitamin D. Here are few of the problems that might arise.

1 Tooth Decay

Binge eating automatically increases your intake of sugary foods or carbonated beverages. As a result, your teeth and gums are exposed to increased plaque and acid, resulting in tooth cavity and tooth decay.

2 Tooth Erosion

If you are suffering from an eating disorder, you will probably have symptoms like the thinning of the enamel on the lingual mandibular incisors. These are otherwise known as your front teeth. When you purge, it causes the stomach acid to travel through the mouth.

This acid is very harmful and erodes the backside of the front teeth quite heavily. Erosion often happens at the tooth’s enamel, which is the most protective part of your tooth. It can cause sensitivity, thinning, and chipping. If your dentists detect eating disorders, they may recommend therapists and teach you how to minimize the effects. 

3 Tooth Sensitivity

As a result of higher acidity in the mouth, gums and tooth enamel can be worn away. This will make your teeth more sensitive when exposed to hot or cold drinks.

4 Insufficient Calcium 

As you know, calcium plays a role in building strong and healthy teeth and jawbones. Lack of calcium can cause teeth to loosen up and possibly fall out. If you do not get enough calcium from your nutritious diet or dietary supplements, your body will draw calcium from your teeth and bones. If you do not have enough calcium, it can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

5 Dry mouth

Poor nutrition or vomiting can cause your salivary glands to swell and decrease production. This could lead to chronic dry mouth, thus making it hard to neutralize the acidity in your mouth. As a result, you will have a higher risk for cavities, tooth loss, and infections in your mouth.

Dental Complications of Binge Eating Disorder

Dietary habits can and do play a role in oral health. Any changes in the mouth are often the first physical signs of an eating disorder. The nutritional deficiencies and harmful habits that often accompany disordered eating can have severe consequences on your dental health. 

It is important to note that an eating disorder might cause lingering or even permanent damage to your teeth and mouth. Early detection of eating disorders might ensure a smoother and more successful recovery period for the body and the teeth. You can prevent damaging your teeth and mouth by having the right information and receiving appropriate guidance from your dentist.

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Without the proper nutrition, your gums and other soft tissue inside the mouth might bleed easily. The glands that produce saliva might also swell, and individuals may experience chronic dry mouth. 

Throwing up frequently might affect your teeth too. That is because when strong stomach acid repeatedly flows over your teeth, the tooth’s enamel can be lost. The effect can be seen as a change in your tooth color, shape, and length. The edges of your teeth can become thin and break off easily. Eating hot or cold food or drink may become uncomfortable.

How to Treat Dental Issues Caused by Binge Eating Disorder

Your dentist is in an excellent position to recognize any early warning signs of eating disorders. During your dental check-up, they generally carry out checks on the soft and hard tissues of your mouth. 

They also look for signs of tooth erosion and any possible injuries to your mouth. Injuries might have been caused by forcing objects into the mouth to make yourself vomit.

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Your dentist can also detect any erosion through stomach acid. They can also detect things such as tooth decay from your excessive sugar consumption and signs of nutrient deficiencies, if any.

If your dentist suspects that you might be suffering from a binge eating disorder, they will talk to you calmly through the clinical signs they see in your mouth. Your dentist will prescribe a high fluoride toothpaste or varnish to protect your teeth from further decay.

Binge Eating Disorder: What Your Dentist Can Do 

One of the most helpful things your dentist can do if you have an eating disorder is offer detailed instructions about proper oral hygiene. Additionally, your dentist can provide a customized treatment plan for your existing oral health problems related to binge eating disorders. They can also offer restorative work that can be performed for people recovering from eating disorders includes:

  • Fluoride treatment plans based on your individual needs.
  • Remedies for dry mouth. 
  • Restorative enamel treatments if you have severe enamel loss and tooth sensitivity problems.
  • Root canals or fillings to treat decayed teeth.
  • Gum treatments for periodontitis or other forms of gum disease.
  • Dental veneers for severely damaged teeth.

Along with any of these restorative treatments, frequent preventive dental visits might also be necessary. These visits will help to monitor your progress and identify any other problems that might arise.

Your dental health is essential. Having a binge eating disorder should not stop you from getting the care you need. You can safely discuss all your dental issues with your dentist. You do not have to open up completely. 

Letting your dentist know that you are struggling with an eating disorder, will have many benefits. That can help alleviate symptoms, address complications, and help you take the steps required to regain control of your physical and mental health.


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