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    A dental visit can detect eating disorders

    submitted by Bucks County Dental Design

    One of the best things about showing up for a regular continuing care appointment in your dental office is that it is another opportunity for a health care professional to ‘catch’ a problem, often when the problem is just beginning.

    High blood pressure, lesions in the mouth, and diabetes are just a few of the health issues that the dentist may notice or suspect.

    One major health issue that a dental team may “catch” is an issue about which the patient is well aware.

    This problem is an eating disorder.

    Bulimia and anorexia nervosa are eating disorders that have significant implications to the oral health of the patient.

    A bulimic patient usually will eat excessively (or binge) and then self-induce vomiting (purge).

    The acids from the stomach can cause severe erosion of the teeth, as well as bad breath, mouth sores, and tenderness in the mouth.

    The teeth can become very sensitive and the color, length, and shape of the teeth can be altered.

    The patient suffering from anorexia nervosa also deals with oral health issues.

    The lack of vitamins, minerals, proteins and other nutrients necessary for good health shows itself in the mouth also.

    These patients can have bad breath, sensitive teeth, dry mouth, and tenderness in the mouth.

    A big issue with anorexic patients is osteoporosis, which leads to tooth loss.

    The dentist can be one of the first to suspect that the patient has an eating disorder.

    If the patient is underage, the dentist can share this suspicion with the parent or guardian.  If the patient is older, the dentist can only encourage the patient to seek counseling for the disorder, but cannot share the information with others.

    Modern dentistry provides options to treat patients who have had damage from eating disorders.

    It is important, however, to resolve the eating disorder first.

    If the dentistry is completed before the issues are handled, the dentistry has an increased likelihood of failure.

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