With nearly 10 million women and 1 million men suffering from eating disorders in the U.S., more dentists are becoming the first line of defense when it comes to recognizing these problems in patients-especially teens.
Though a parent may not be aware of a child's eating disorder, there are warning signs the dentist might spot in a regular check-up.
Many of these symptoms are caused by stomach acids brought up through the mouth of someone with an eating disorder. The dentist might notice:
When a dentist notices warning signs of an eating disorder, he or she may be able to point parents toward help. If teeth are damaged, it is important for a patient to recover from the eating disorder before pursuing restorative or cosmetic dental surgery. The person's overall health is the first priority.
To minimize the effects of purging on the teeth, a person should immediately rinse with club soda, a sugar-free mouthwash or water. This neutralizes stomach acids that weaken tooth enamel. Only after rinsing should a person brush teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.