Dental teams are in the ideal position to identify and act on early signs of eating disorders, says the Oral Health Foundation in the UK. Around nine-in-ten (90%) patients with bulimia and one-in-five (20%) with anorexia suffer from enamel erosion. Tooth decay, sensitive teeth, dry mouth and enlarged salivary glands are also frequent.
The Oral Health Foundation believes that thousands of undiagnosed eating disorder can be picked up during regular dental check-ups by dentists, dental hygienists, therapists, and dental nurses.
Chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr Nigel Carter, says: “During the routine dental examination, dental teams carry out checks on the hard and soft tissues of the mouth and look for signs of tooth erosion. They will also look for possible injuries to the mouth which could have been induced by inserting foreign objects that cause a person to vomit”.
He continued: “If they suspect that a person might be suffering from an eating disorder, they will be able to talk calmly through the clinical signs they are seeing in the mouth. They might also speak about prescribing a high fluoride toothpaste or varnish to protect your teeth from decay.
“The more open and honest patients can be with their dental team, the better they will be able to help. Your dental team can be trusted to help you and will not judge you over any symptoms you are having”.