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Bulimia and Anorexia are serious eating disorders which can cause serious damage to the person suffering from them. The effects of these disorders are visible throughout the body, however one of the most distinctive kinds of damage is seen in the teeth. A lot of the time a diagnosis for a possible Bulimic or Anorexic patient is made by a dentist. Here are some common types of damage that is seen in the teeth and the possible treatment options that will be put forward to you by your dentist.

Damage To The teeth

The teeth of patients suffering from eating disorders are typically eroded and damaged by the high amount of acid reflux, vomiting or an excessive intake of soda-based drinks. The enamel, which is the protective layer covering the outside of our teeth, is worn away. This leads to the exposure of the much softer underlying dentinal layer of the teeth.

The immediate ramification of this is the increased susceptibility of the teeth to decay, discoloration, inability to maintain good oral hygiene as there are multiple facets and micro-roughening of the teeth.

This kind of damage is indicative of an eating disorder if seen in a relatively young person, commonly female, and is generalized in nature without the presence of any other apparent predisposing condition.

Some other symptoms that are commonly felt by patients are:

  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold food articles
  • Brownish discoloration of the teeth
  • Change in the shape of the teeth
  • Pain because of pulp exposure
  • Halitosis

Treatment

On diagnosing a previously untreated case of an eating disorder, the first thing that is done is to refer the patient for treatment of the underlying disorder. These conditions can be extremely difficult to treat and often take a lot of time. Just treating the dental defects that have cropped up over time is like putting a band aid over a gaping wound.

Once the underlying disorder has been treated and the patient is stable, then dental treatment can proceed.

A thorough evaluation of the dentition has to be made to ascertain the severity of abrasion and tooth wear that is seen. In extremely severe cases, root canal treatment to help rid the patient of pain and sensitivity is followed by the placement of crowns to increase the strength and protect the teeth from accidental breakage. Some amount of aesthetic treatment for the correction of discolorations on the tooth will have to be done. This includes the use of veneers, laminated and composite treatment.

Once the damage has been corrected, the patient has to be put on fluoridated toothpastes and a Chlorhexidine mouthwash to protect the remaining teeth from further decay. A lot of patients also complain of a decreased amount of saliva production as a result of the eating disorder. This is a major concern for the dentist as the saliva is essential to maintain a normal healthy environment in the oral cavity. Use of artificial saliva, non-sweetened chewing gums as well as medication to help increase the salivary flow is indicated in such situations.

The patient should also be put on a strict oral hygiene maintenance protocol which includes a recall visit and professional tooth cleaning every three months.

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