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E - Eating Disorders (A to Z Challenge April 2014)

Anyone can suffer from an eating disorder, but they are most common in teen and young adult women. Dentists are often the first health professionals to observe signs and symptoms of eating disorders as it is the pain and discomfort related to dental complications that causes patients to visit their dentist.

Types of Eating Disorders
  • Anorexia typically involves an extreme fear of weight gain or becoming “fat” even though these individuals are underweight.
  • Bulimia involves discrete periods of overeating after which comes the purging designed to compensate for overeating and avoid weight gain. Those behaviors may include self-induced vomiting, misuse of laxatives, enemas, and diuretics.
  • Binge Eating or Compulsive Overeating may affect almost as many men as women. 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.
Symptoms
  • Loss of weight
  • Secretive eating patterns
  • Hair loss
  • Feeling cold
  • Constipation
  • Loss of the monthly menstrual period
  • Heart conditions
  • Kidney failure
  • Salivary glands may become enlarged
  • Xerostomia (dry mouth)
  • 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 (translucency), shape and length of teeth
  • Restorations may appear elevated when erosion occurs on the surrounding enamel
  • Teeth may become sensitive to hot and cold.

Treatment of oral signs of eating disorders
  • Patients should be counseled on the need for meticulous daily personal oral health care.
  • Patients who purge by vomiting should be advised NOT brush immediately after vomiting, but rinse with baking soda to help neutralize the effects of the stomach acid.

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