What is an eating disorder?
An eating disorder is a psychological illness that manifests itself in unhealthy eating habits. There are different kinds of eating disorders, but all of them have negative consequences for the health of the individual, and as such have negative consequences for teeth. Eating disorders usually attack the teeth and the mouth first. We will be listing some of the most common eating disorders and their effects on the teeth of the individual.
Bulimia is an eating disorder that is characterised by gorging on foods and then vomiting them out. This is one of the most common ones, and is usually found in female patients. The negative effects of bulimia on the teeth are quite obvious; vomit is highly acidic, and it can dissolve enamel, especially if you are not absorbing enough nutrients (because you vomit out the food before it is entirely digested). Avid wear is particularly bad, and if you brush your teeth right after vomiting, you are harming your enamel even more, as the damaged enamel will be scrubbed right off of the tooth surface.
The most common eating disorder by far is anorexia, which manifests itself (among many other psychological patterns and symptoms) as an unwillingness to consume food. This is a problem for the teeth because the nutrients that are needed to replenish the enamel will not be in the system, causing the teeth to start to become ruined. Saliva production is also an issue, as saliva is only produced when there is food in the mouth, and it contains natural lubricants and antibacterial compounds that help keep teeth healthy and white. Less saliva means more cavities.
Eating disorders in children
Kids usually manifest much lighter eating disorders. It is common for kids to only eat a certain kind of food (or only foods of a certain taste, colour, texture, shape, etc.), and eating only certain foods can cause dental problems. Only the nutrients in the food at hand is available, and if it is not the kind of food that replenishes the enamel then tooth decay will start sooner or later. If the food in question is sugary or bad for teeth, then this process will be quickened, and pretty soon you will have dental problems to deal with. It is very important for children to get proper nutrients, as their adult teeth are still developing, and the bacterial and microbial culture in their mouth is not yet developed, and can be influenced. It is important to have a healthy oral environment as this prevents the replication of the microbes that cause tooth decay, like S. mutans. If nothing else works, get some nutridrinks and nutrition supplements, especially calcium and magnesium, and fluoride. Remember that you are in charge of what your children eat, make the right choice and foster healthy eating habits, as these pay off for life.