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The Risks of Eating Disorders on a Teen's Dental Health

Posted on 10/15/2015 by Giri Palani
A teenage boy suffering from bulimia. Approximately 10 million people suffer from eating disorders in the United States. Anyone can suffer from this problem, but it is more common in young adults and teenagers. Furthermore, these dysfunctional behaviors can adversely impact your child's quality of life. Teenagers and young adults have problems with their self-esteem and maintaining relationships with friends and family members.

They also perform poorly in school and on the job. It is important that you become familiar with the symptoms and signs of these psychological disorders. Many physical complications are associated with eating disorders such as oral health. Eating disorders can impact your adolescent's oral health by causing pain and discomfort due to dental problems. Remember that dentists are often one of the first people to spot the symptoms and signs of these abnormal eating habits by examining a child's mouth.

What are Common Eating Disorders?

There are three kinds of eating disorders, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia, and compulsive overeating or binge eating. If your child suffers from anorexia nervosa, he or she may be afraid of becoming fat or gaining weight. Many of these adolescents are actually really thin, but they see themselves as overweight. Psychologically, they may try to maintain a superficial body weight that is unhealthy by starving or depriving themselves of food. Your child may go another route by taking enemas or laxatives to make him or herself get rid of their food.

Teenagers that suffer from bulimia will eat large amounts of food and then force themselves to throw up. Your child may fear being overweight and will go to any extent to stay thin. Even if these measures mean risking his or her physical health. If your kid overeats, he or she may feel completely out of control and binge eating may occur numerous times throughout the entire day. Bulimics try to undo the fact that they ate too much by vomiting all their food back up. Furthermore, your child may even misuse enemas and laxatives.

If your adolescent is eating large amounts of foods that are high in fats and carbohydrates he or she may be a compulsive overeater or engage in binge eating habits. Teens who suffer from compulsive overeating or binge eating do not try to throw their food up or abuse laxatives on a regular basis. Rather, they build up feelings of guilt, which makes them engage in this unhealthy behavior. Your adolescent may also fast to help control his or her weight.

Signs and Symptoms

You may have a hard time spotting or knowing if your kid is suffering from an eating disorder. Many teenagers and young adults are very keen at hiding this abnormal behavior. Remember that if your children become involved in any of these types of psychological disorders, they may be robbing themselves of important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for growth, survival, and good health. The following signs and symptoms may help you recognize if your kid is suffering from one of these three ailments. Teenagers may experience extreme weight loss, constipation, hair loss, kidney failure, and poor dental health. Your child may also have secretive eating habits and be cold to the touch. Females may even lose their menstrual periods for months at a time.

Why Do Eating Disorders Reduce Dental Health?

Eating disorders can reduce your child's dental health due to consistently vomiting, which can result in nutritional deficiencies. Insufficient vitamins and minerals can severely damage the mouths of children. Your kid may experience xerostomia due to an enlarged salivary gland. Xerostomia is a syndrome that is associated with reduced saliva flow. Saliva helps to wash away unwanted food and bacteria from the teeth. A reduction in the flow of saliva can cause food to stick to your child's teeth. These microorganisms use food particles as a fuel source for acid production. This acid can build up inside of the mouth and destroy dentition.

Children who suffer from these ailments, may have cracked and red lips, which are accompanied by lesions on the soft tissue inside of the mouth. These lesions frequently bleed and cause pain and discomfort. They may experience transformations in the color, shape, and length of their teeth. Moreover, your adolescent's teeth can become sensitive to hot and cold foods and liquids. Throwing up can cause erosion of the teeth due to stomach acid. A teenager can develop brittle teeth; loose tooth enamel; widen his or her jaw and make it appear squarer.

How to Prevent Eating Disorders

Parents you may ask yourself, how can I prevent these kinds of dysfunctional behaviors? There is no simple way to answer this question. You should continuously counsel your children about the importance of loving him or herself, maintaining good eating habits, and practicing good oral health. Do not be afraid to seek medical advice and get your child the help he or she needs. If your teenager is experiencing dental problems due to an eating disorder, please contact our dental office for an oral health risk assessment.

We can help you and your child identify the most appropriate treatment methods to save his or her beautiful smile. Remember that dental health is important because it helps ensure your kid's safety and wellbeing. Do not hesitate to give us a call and schedule an appointment.

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