Recovering From An Eating Disorder? What Dental Treatments Can Help?

The incidence of eating disorders continues to rise -- more than 30 million Americans currently self-identify as having an eating disorder. However, there now also exist more resources and recovery options to assist those suffering from eating disorders than ever before. If you're recovering from anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating disorder, you may be wondering what you can do to improve your health and appearance and speed your path on the road to recovery. There are several dental procedures that may help restore your healthy smile. Read on to learn more about the specific issues that can result from each type of eating disorder, as well as how these issues are treated.

If you are recovering from anorexia or a compulsive exercising disorder:

Both anorexia and compulsive exercising can rob the body of vital nutrients and electrolytes that help keep your teeth and gums in good shape. Your gums in particular are often the first physical victim of your eating disorder -- as your body begins to use stored nutrients in tissue to keep up with your body's nutritional demands, your gums can appear to recede or to turn light in color. You may find that your teeth seem more prominent than before, even when taking your weight loss into account.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatments for receding gums that can help eliminate this effect and restore your original healthy smile. Once you begin eating a healthy diet, your body continues to replenish its nutrient levels, helping strengthen your teeth and gums. Your dentist can perform a deep-cleaning to destroy any harmful bacteria that has made its way between your teeth and gums and helped contribute to the gum erosion. If you have significant damage, it can be repaired through either a surgical pocket repair procedure or a bone and tissue graft that will help your body regrow its own tissue.

If you are recovering from a compulsive eating disorder:

Although anorexia and compulsive eating are on the opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to food consumption, in both cases an improper diet can lead to malnutrition. In addition, the fatty and sugary foods that often dominate a binge eating session can also cause cavities -- and when left untreated, cavities can lead to inflamed, painful roots or even bone erosion in the jaw. If you have a sore or sensitive tooth, you should schedule a dental appointment as soon as possible. Your dentist can perform a deep cleaning and identify and treat any potential problem areas.

If you are recovering from bulimia:

As it involves both malnutrition and regular dental exposure to stomach acid, bulimia can be incredibly stressful for your teeth. Over time and with regular purging sessions, the enamel on your teeth may begin to erode, leading to frequent cavities and discoloration (as the enamel is worn away, the yellow dentin that makes up the interior of your tooth will begin to shine through).

Dental veneers may be your best option to correct any current damage and prevent future damage. These veneers are applied by slowly grinding the surface of your natural tooth to provide a good bonding area. Porcelain veneers are then placed on the front and edge of your tooth to provide a flawless, strong biting surface. Veneers are very durable and can help you instantly achieve a healthy, attractive appearance.

Although veneers are the priciest of the dental repair options, if your dentist recommends this course of treatment as a result of a diagnosed eating disorder, your primary health insurance may pay for a portion or even all of the work necessary to restore your smile.