The relationship between dental hygiene and the incidence of eating disorders in teenage girls is discussed in this essay. Although the condition can affect anyone beginning at the age of eight, it is most common among adolescent girls and young adult females who are more self-conscious about their appearance. Such people are more vulnerable to peer and family pressure about the ideal body size for women. They are thus more likely to develop eating disorders to achieve this image.
Anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa are the two most common eating disorders. Simply put, anorexia nervosa is characterized by food restriction, whereas bulimia nervosa is characterized by binge eating followed by purging or exercise to counteract the excessive food intake. Patients develop a habit of regurgitating food contents from the stomach, which contributes to tooth erosion from the force of vomiting. The erosion is also caused by the low ph of the contents of the stomach as well as the aggressive tooth brushing after an episode of puking.
Patients may also self-induce vomiting using their fingers or other objects, a practice that may be injurious to the soft tissue in the oral cavity. Patients may also develop painless and sometimes painful swelling of glands as a result of binging and purging. An additional effect of eating disorders on an individual’s oral health is a reduction in the flow of saliva which could be as a result of the use of laxatives and diuretics or repeated episodes of binge-purging.
All the above effects have a reverse effect on the patient’s ability to take regular meals. Eroded teeth can lead to temperature sensitivity, reduced saliva flow leads to a dry oral cavity, and swelling of parotid glands makes swallowing painful.