Waterford, MI Dentist
Lloyd H. Alpert, D.D.S.
4025 Highland Road
Waterford, MI 48328
(248) 682-6010

Several researchers have conservatively estimated that there are 1-5 million girls and women and 1 million boys and men in the United States that suffer from some type of eating disorder after puberty. While a preoccupation with food and weight is evident with those who exhibit an eating disorder, often their behavior is compensating for strong feelings and emotions that seem overwhelming. Both emotional and physical health can be adversely affected. According to information on the National Eating Disorders Association's website, [www.NationalEatingDisorders.org], 42% of 1st and 3rd grade girls want to be thinner, 46% of 9-11 year-olds are "sometime" or "very often" on diets, 45% of American women are on a diet on any given day, 80% of American women are dissatisfied with their appearance. Three of the more common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa [characterized by excessive weight loss and self-starvation], Bulimia Nervosa [characterized by binge eating followed by purging] and Binge Eating Disorder [characterized by impulsive eating and excessive weight gain].

Bulimics are very good at hiding their disorder. However, there are classic oral manifestations of this disorder. From constant vomiting, the enamel and dentin coverings on the back of the upper front teeth surfaces become eroded. Clinically, the tooth surface has a smooth, glassy appearance without any stains. The amount of tooth erosion is related to the frequency and degree of vomiting. When the back teeth are affected, there is a change in the bite from loss of tooth structure. Swelling of the parotid gland is also common in bulimics. Another frequent consequence of bulimia is having a dry mouth because of dehydration from fasting and vomiting and abuse of laxatives and diuretics. Patients suspected of bulimia should be referred to mental health professionals who are experienced in eating disorders. From a dental standpoint, these patients should come in for regular professional cleanings and practice meticulous oral hygiene and home care. They should rinse vigorously with water immediately after vomiting; the use of "artificial saliva" and daily application of fluoride in custom trays will also help minimize damage to the teeth and gums. Elective cosmetic treatment should not be attempted during the active phase of this disorder.  

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