Bulimia is very serious and potentially life-threatening eating disorder that involves consumption of large amounts of food, then purging it – often with laxatives or supplements but most often by vomiting – before the food is processed through the body. Teens are especially susceptible for bulimia. Consider the athlete trying to “make weight” for a competition, friends enjoying junk-food feasts only to purge before the calories “take hold” and, of course, teens who simply want to maintain or lose weight; all can find the cycle of eating a seemingly harmless and convenient way of staying slim. Because most parents don’t recognize the signs of bulimia – remember, they often see their kids eating and participating in activities – they usually are shocked to learn their children are bulimic. And more often than not, the news their child is bulimic more often than not comes from dentists. Why a dentist? Here’s what every parent needs to know about the connection between teens, bulimia and teeth.
Teeth and Bulimia
Bulimia has a number of dangerous side effects, including negative self-image, guilt, depression, obsessive behaviors, and poor nutrition. But it’s particularly the vomiting that wreaks havoc on both the esophagus and the teeth. That’s because when one throws up, the contents of the stomach are covered with stomach acid. These acids can rot the teeth over time. Brushing immediately after vomiting can worsen the effect because when the enamel is coated with stomach acid, the acid behaves like an abrasive, transforming the simple act of brushing akin to scraping away the enamel down to the dentin. Often the first time a parent is made aware of their teen’s condition – or the teen first learns of the damage bulimia can cause have on teeth – comes during their regular dental check-up. (Orthodontists, with their patients visiting more frequently, may notice signs even sooner.)
Impact on Oral Health
Teens who suffer from bulimia will frequently stick their fingers or a foreign object down their throat to make them vomit. This may result in tiny lesions that leave their gums, tongue and cheeks susceptible for infection. Vomiting also wreaks havoc on the salivary glands. In fact, bulimics often develop gastroesophageal reflux, meaning acid erosion occurs even when the patients are not aware of it.
Full Dental Care in Pompano Beach
If you, your teen, or someone you love is suffering from bulimia, know that it can do more harm than good. Dentists are more than happy to provide cosmetic and reconstructive services for those who want a perfect smile. But at My Pompano Dentist we are more concerned for your health and well-being and encourage anyone suffering from bulimia to seek medical or therapeutic treatment as soon as possible before serious conditions arise. If your teeth have been damaged by bulimia, we can help you find the smile you lost. Contact My Pompano Dentist at (954) 941-2412 or request an appointment today for all your dental needs.