Consultations for Dental Professionals
Eating Disorder Treatment can be challenging when only one aspect of the person is addressed. It takes a strong clinical team to aid a patient into recovery from a serious illness, such as an eating disorder. Dr. Renye is committed to raising awareness within the dental professional community about eating disorders, as many patients will first seek out help for their physical dental and mouth issues before seeking mental health treatment.
In the past, Dr. Renye has offered consultations, workshops and trainings for dental schools and early career dental professionals. Workshops focused on the negative effects of eating disorders on oral health. She has provided these through the Penn Dental School, the Kornberg School of Dentistry, and Stoney Brook University School of Dental Medicine.
Dr. Renye is available for consultations for dental professionals (dentists, dental students, dental hygienists) on an individual and group basis. Please contact her to discuss how she can be of help to you and your patients.
Eating Disorders and Dental Health
Oftentimes patients will seek professional help for the more surface (cosmetic) symptoms of eating disorders. The following are a list of common symptoms found in patients with eating disorders and eating disorder symptomatology.
- Erosion of dental enamel (hard protective covering of a tooth)
- Increase in tooth decay and cavities
- Loss of gag reflex
- Thermal hypersensitivity (cold/hot sensitive)
- Parotid gland enlargement (Salivary gland)
- Dryness of the mouth and decreased salivary flow
- Pharyngeal erythema (Redness of the throat and palate)
- Reddened, dry, and cracked lips and fissures at angles to the lips
Effects of Repeated Exposure to Gastric Acids and Refined Sugars on Teeth
A primary symptom of bulimia is repeated vomiting done after the consumption of large quantities of high calorie food. Oftentimes the food is high is refined sugars and carbohydrates. Teeth may become brittle due to lack of nutrient dense foods remaining in the system (or not entering the system in the first place). The result of this behaviour can be the rounding and softening of teeth, sometimes revealing amalgam fillings which begin to protrude. Over time teeth can crack, get multiple cavities and even fall out.
Patients who suffer from chronic bulimia will often present with cavities on the tongue side of the teeth and be in need of a multitude of fillings that will need to continuously be replaced as symptoms persist.
Harm Reduction for Patients with Eating Disorders
Eating Disorders are fatal and can only be addressed by a multidisciplinary team. Oftentimes patients need the support of an educated dental professional, a psychologist, a nutritionist, and a psychiatrist. While I do not in any way condone eating disorder behaviors, patients may continue in self harm even as they progressively heal from these disorders. The following are a list of ways for your patients to reduce the deadly and harmful dental effects of eating disorders and eating disorder behaviors:
- brush and floss teeth daily
- get dental check ups every 1-6 months
- after vomiting, rinse mouth using magnesium hydroxide or sodium bicarbonate
- talk about the possibility of crowns and other restorative dental procedures
Denise Renye, M.Ed, M.A., PsyD ~ Licensed Psychologist PSY28096