Orthodontics Blog - Dr. Albert Fontaine

Eating Disorders Create Serious Complications for Orthodontic Treatment

SPRING HILL, FLORIDA – Feb. 24 will mark the beginning of the 2013 National Eating Disorders Awareness week.

Eating disorders are serious and potentially life threatening illnesses that not only affect physical health, but also have a significant impact on oral health, dental health and orthodontics in Spring Hill. Adults and teens who are wearing Dunedin dental braces and suffering from eating disorders should be aware of these negative implications.

“Eating disorders can affect the dentition and tooth movement in a couple of ways,” explains Spring Hill overbite correction expert and orthodontist Dr. Albert J. Fontaine. “In cases of anorexia, we see very slow movement of teeth. The patient is ingesting too few calories and the brain tells the body to keep the primary functions working. The primary functions would include the heart, lungs, and brain. However, the movement of teeth is a secondary function so you won’t see the body wasting calories on something like tooth movement when it needs to focus on primary functions to stay alive.”

In cases of bulimia, the stomach acids will erode the tooth enamel, says Dr. Fontaine, a Spring Hill and Clearwater orthodontist, who also provides Dunedin Invisalign. This causes permanent damage to the teeth and also causes the braces to loosen from the enamel. The composite glue is eaten away and this will cause the braces to detach from the teeth.

According to the National Eating Disorders Association website, approximately 30 million Americans will suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at some time in their life. Eating disorders tend to appear most often during mid adolescent and young adult years. This is often around the same time that orthodontic treatments like braces are being applied for tooth alignment.

There are several types of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa. Anorexia nervosa is characterized as self-starvation and excess weight loss. 90-95 percent of anorexia sufferers are girls and women. It has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition.

Bulimia nervosa is a cycle of binge eating and self-induced vomiting. Approximately 80 percent of bulimia patients are females. The illness is commonly associated with symptoms of depression.

Many symptoms of eating disorders can go unnoticed. However, the nutritional deficiencies of anorexia and the acidic conditions of bulimic regurgitation can lead to noticeable oral health issues. It is these dental and orthodontic complications that most often cause eating disorder sufferers to seek treatment.

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