Dental Health and Wellness Boston is partnering with MEDA (Multiservice Eating Disorders Association) to support those affected by eating disorders and be a catalyst for prevention, cures and access to care. Eating disorders are serious, potentially life threatening conditions that take their toll on a person’s emotional and physical health. The prevalence of eating disorders has risen in the United States in the past decade, and according to a National Eating Disorders Association study, as many as 10 million women and 1 million men are struggling with these complicated disorders.
The oral effects of eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and binge eating can be very serious, and changes in the mouth, salivary glands and teeth are often the first physical sign. Thinning of the tooth structure called erosion can occur as early as six months after the problem begins with tooth decay and sensitivity to temperature often following. Over time the teeth can be irreversibly weakened.
I recently attended a conference conducted by Laurel Watt-Aldredge, PsyD., a licensed psychologist who is working to raise awareness for this growing eating disorder epidemic. The goal of the session was to educate dental professionals on how to identify and address these health issues with their patients if a problem is suspected. She provided us with invaluable contacts and resources to get our patients the help they need. If you are a dentist or dental hygienist, I encourage you to support this worthy and rewarding cause and become educated on how you can help and improve the oral health of people struggling with eating disorders.
At my practice in Boston, we have helped many people preserve and improve their oral health while they seek care for their eating disorders. We provide methods to help minimize the damage to their teeth and a safe, non-judgmental environment to share and heal. Some of our most rewarding dental cases have been those that restored the smile of someone whose teeth had been heavily damaged from years of battling these disorders.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, there are supportive dentists and healthcare providers who want to help you through this difficult time. For so many just like you, restoration of your teeth symbolizes much more than replacing lost tooth structure. Your healthy new smile represents a healthy start on your path to whole body healing.