The pressure on teenagers to look fabulous and slim has never been greater and unfortunately this can lead to some developing eating disorders. Two of the most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Both of these conditions can have a hugely detrimental effect on general health as well as dental health. With an eating disorder, diet is restricted to such an extent that it is impossible for the body to obtain the calories and nutrients required for good dental health (Read about Nutritional Counseling). A healthy mouth does require the right kinds of proteins, minerals and vitamins to maintain strong teeth and bones and to help the body fight any gum infections. Bulimia nervosa can cause slightly different problems as this condition involves repeated and excessive eating or bingeing followed by self-induced vomiting. Continual vomiting can have serious consequences for dental health.
How Eating Disorders Affect Teeth
The consequences of bulimia nervosa are easy for any pediatric dentist to detect and this is because continual vomiting exposes the teeth to strong digestive acids contained in the stomach. This exposure weakens tooth enamel, greatly increasing the risk of enamel erosion. After a while a person with bulimia nervosa will notice their teeth become more sensitive as the enamel layer becomes thinner, and their teeth may even change shape and will look worn down. This damage is permanent. Sufferers may complain that their throat or mouth is tender, and eating disorders can result in swollen saliva glands. In addition, the lack of sufficient nutrients can affect the jawbone, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and the risk of tooth loss.
Kids Dentist in NJ to Detect Eating Disorders
It’s a distressing disease for any parent or caregiver to witness in a child they care about and often teenagers with this condition will go to great lengths to hide it. However it’s easy for pediatric dentists to identify the tell-tale signs of this destructive disorder. Common symptoms can include noticing your child has bad breath; they may have a dry mouth and cracked sore lips. They are more likely to have mouth sores and may complain their teeth are sensitive to hot and cold.
Good Pediatric Dentist for Good General Health
Eating disorders do require specialized care, but you’ll find a good pediatric dentist can work with other specialists during treatment. This can help reduce the effects on dental health as we can talk to teenagers about the best way to deal with this condition while they overcome it. For example, it’s important that they avoid brushing their teeth immediately after being sick as brushing weakened tooth enamel causes the enamel to erode more quickly. Instead, they should rinse their mouth immediately after vomiting and it can be helpful to use a fluoride mouth rinse. Good home dental care can also help reduce the effects, including the use of fluoridated toothbrush. If necessary our pediatric dentists can provide additional fluoride treatments NJ or even temporary appliances such as mouth guards to help prevent the teeth from being exposed to excess stomach acid.
Once they have recovered from this condition, we can work with them to help restore damaged teeth so they can once again have a smile they are proud of and can hopefully enjoy good dental health and good general health.