Search the Healthy Living Web Site


Advanced Search

This Week's Discussion Topics

Home | Message Board | About Us | Alternative | Bookstore | Exercise | Health Issues | Gatherings | Member Photo Gallery | Newsletters | Nutrition | Our Stories | Recipes | Recommended Software | Resources | Weight Maintenance | Site Map | Contact Us
 


Healthy Living

Dentists may be first to detect eating disorders

Afflicted with mental disorders that devour the body, anorexics and bulimics often show symptoms that only a dentist might perceive, according to an article in the June 2002 issue of AGD Impact, the newsmagazine of the Academy of General Dentistry. Some of the disorders' manifestations appear in and around the mouth. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) one out of every 100 females aged 10 to 20 suffers from the eating disorders anorexia nervosa and/or bulimia nervosa. While the disorders sometimes strike men, women make up 95 percent of those with the conditions. These eating disorders have high relapse rates and carry a major risk for death. Ten percent to 20 percent of sufferers die from complications stemming from the disorder or by their own hand.

Anorexia is characterized by low weight, which is brought on by a lack of food or a severely restricted diet. Symptoms include resistance to maintaining body weight at or above a minimally normal weight for age and height and a morbid fear of gaining weight. Though much of anorexia's symptoms are beyond what many dentists may notice, there are some outward signs, including an increase in peach-colored facial hair.

Bulimia tends to strike later in life than anorexia, afflicting mostly college-aged women. Bulimia, which is marked by binge eating, followed by purging through vomiting or ingesting laxatives, has several oral symptoms. The erosion of tooth enamel is a telltale sign of frequent self-induced vomiting. Additionally, the gastric acid can cause sores to appear on the sides of the mouth.

"[Bulimics] can melt their teeth away over time," says Karl F. Woodmansey, DDS, FAGD, spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry, an organization of general dentists dedicated to quality continuing dental education. "I've seen teeth dissolved all the way down to the pulp."

"If they don't seek help for their disorder, bulimics can permanently ruin a beautiful smile," reminds Dr. Woodmansey. Dentists who suspect that a patient has an eating disorder will encourage them to seek the appropriate help, but they will also act to relieve pain-such as tooth sensitivity-and to arrest further acid erosion. One such way to prevent further tooth damage is to create a mouth guard filled with a slurry of baking soda to neutralize the effects of stomach acid. Salt-based toothpastes also neutralize acid, however, dentists cannot do permanent restorative work on a patient's mouth until they have been treated for their disorder.

To find a dentist in your area, call 1-888-2X-A-YEAR (1-888-292-9327)

To ask a dentist a question, visit http://agd.secureforum.com/~smileline

Copyright © 1998-2002 SLM & Healthy Living
All Rights Reserved

Back to Top


Home | Message Board | About Us | Alternative | Bookstore | Exercise | Health Issues | Gatherings | Member Photo Gallery | Newsletters | Nutrition | Our Stories | Recipes | Recommended Software | Resources | Weight Maintenance | Site Map | Contact Us