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Bulimia – how your dentist could spot the signs

By Jill Hamilton on May 24, 2012 in Healthy Living


In a world of size 0 models and a “skinny is sexy” mentality of today's fashion elites, many young women feel the pressure to be thin. Sometimes, the pressure could be too much. Eating disorders have become a serious issue with young women who are trying to mimic the fashion models of the world.

As we already know, dentists and dental hygienists can usually spot the effects of many health problems. Bulimia is no different.  However, it is unique that symptoms appear more prominent in the mouth compared to other health issues.

Vomiting is one of the main avenues people with bulimia utilize to rid their body of food. Not only is vomiting unpleasant to experience, it also contains many acids that contribute to teeth erosion. This acid eats away at the enamel that protects your teeth from dental cavity bacteria. In fact, 89% of people with bulimia show signs of tooth erosion1. Erosion can drastically change the color, size and shape of your teeth. Excessive tooth erosion is one way your dentist could tell if a patient may be bulimic.

Frequent vomiting can lead to sensitive teeth, dry mouth and red, cracked lips. All signs that your dentist is trained to recognize as side effects of bulimia. If your dentist suggests your child may have this eating disorder, don't panic. With a little help from nutritionists, therapists and doctors, your child may be able to recover from this physical and psychological health issue.

The good news is that the fashion magazine and the media are listening to the public's cry. Beginning with their June issue, Vogue magazine will no longer allow models who appear to have any eating disorder or are under 16. Let's hope other fashion magazines and designers follow suit!

1. “Eating Concerns and Oral Health.” National Eating Disorders Association. www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/nedaDir/files/documents/handouts/OralHlth.