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News / March 3, 2014

Irish dentists report on eating disorders

by Guy Hiscott

Dental professionals in Ireland responded to a call to action for dentists during Eating Disorder Awareness Week (24 February – 2 March).

Dentists were being urged to spot eating disorders among dental patients with tooth erosion, abrasion or attition. Read our original news story here.

Irish Dentistry spoke to Dr William Fenlon, paediatric dentist from Northbrook Clinic, about spotting eating disorders early on in dental patients.

He says: ‘Gastric acid can cause enamel erosion from gastric reflux and from bulimia. The enamel erosion pattern in bulimia is characteristic where the inner surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth are affected. If the cause is not identified and addressed in time, the dentition will be permanently compromised.

‘The dentist is often the first professional to detect evidence of bulimia. A careful history to eliminate dietary intake of acidic fruits and drinks helps to eliminate other aetiologies.’

Laura Kearns, dental hygienist from Seapoint Clinic, adds: ‘It can be helpful to know of resources local to you. In my experience, making a patient aware of the damage that can be caused to the teeth is important as they may not be aware of it.’

‘The most important route of treatment is prevention of further damage with oral hygiene advice and possible referral onto a health care professional for additional support.’

Dr Fenlon concludes: ‘In conjunction with parents and/or the family doctor, diagnosis of the underlying cause and appropriate management is best provided by medical colleagues.’

According to a study, over 1.6 million people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, almost half of which (40%) are bulimic.

Northbrook Clinic won Best Child Dental Health Initiative for the 2014 Irish Dentistry Awards. Seapoint Clinic was awarded Most Attractive Practice at the 2013 Irish Dentistry Awards.

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