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Child Abuse to Eating Disorders -- It Shows In Your Teeth

By HERWriter
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Dentists can tell a lot from examining your teeth. Often erosion of enamel, bad breath and chipped teeth can be signs of something else.

Child Abuse

Child abuse is defined as any act that jeopardizes or prevents a child’s physical or emotional health or development. Beyond being able to tell whether basic dental hygiene and care is being neglected, dentists can also tell other things from their examination.

Fractured incisors (front teeth) can be an indication of a child being struck with a fist or object, or from a tumble down the stairs that may not have been accidental. Like their physician counterparts who much report any signs of abuse to officials, dentists must do the same if they feel there is sufficient evidence to support their suspicion of abuse.

Burned lips may be a sign that a child is being force fed hot foods. Bruised lips can be a sign of forced pacifier use. Bruising of the frenum (the little piece of skin that holds the tongue down) may be signs of forced bottle feeding.

Oral or perioral syphilis or gonorrhea, veneral warts, or palatal petechial (small purplish spot) or erythema (inflammation) may be indicators of sexual abuse.


Asthma can also affect dental health. Or more specifically the muscle relaxants used to treat asthma symptoms. Dental caries (cavities) and gingivitis are more prevalent in asthmatics because of the decreased flow of saliva – which is a side effect of these medications. Saliva reduces the alkalinity of the mouth which keeps cavity-causing bacteria in check.

Asthmatics should rinse with plain water 4 times per day. The water will help keep gum tissues moist.

Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)

With GERD, stomach acid may settle in the mouth or throat resulting in bad breath and wearing away of tooth enamel after prolonged periods of exposure.

It is important to learn how to manage GERD not only because of the long-lasting physiological effects, but because of the damage it can do to dental tissues and structures.

Those that suffer from GERD should also rinse with water 4 times per day to dilute stomach acids and reduce their effect on tooth enamel.

Halitosis (bad breath)

Bad breath may indicate more than you need to brush your teeth more often. There are oral and non-oral causes of bad breath.

Skin cells building up on tongue and in plaque – These are normally cleared away with regular brushing, including the tongue, and regular dental check-ups so any plaque or tartar build up is cleared away. But if these basics are maintained and there is still a problem, then further investigation as to the cause may be warranted.

Decrease in saliva (dry mouth) – This often happens with certain medications (eg: Celebrex and asthma treatments). Saliva helps maintain alkalinity levels in the mouth. This can be lessened or remedied by rinsing several times a day with water. A dentist will be able to tell you if your mouth has the proper level of saliva to keep your teeth and mouth healthy.

Presence of certain bacteria – There are certain bacteria that give off sulphuric-smelling odors as they break down. A dentist will be able to suggest treatment or management alternatives to help reduce the smell.

Dietary issues may also increase the possibility of bad breath. The most common are the increase in the amount of protein and reduction in the amount of carbohydrates in a person’s diet.

An increase in oral pH levels (alkalinity) – The higher the alkalinity levels in your mouth the better the conditions for the development of odor- and cavity-causing bacteria. Baking soda and salt rinses help with this as well as certain mouthwashes.

If you wish to use a mouthwash, choose one with low sugar and alcohol content. The low sugar and alcohol contents will help reduce the alkalinity levels in your mouth, while high sugar and alcohol levels will increase the alkalinity levels in your mouth, increasing the chances of bacterial development resulting in bad breath and cavities.

Your dentist may also recommend consulting with your family physician to investigate the possibility of liver, respiratory/sinus, tonsils, kidney, diabetes, medication or menstrual causes of your bad breath.

Bulimia Nervosa

The binging and purging associated with this disorder can also wear away dental enamel because of the acids that are passing through the mouth.

Dentistry is not just for cleaning teeth and fillings. Dentists play a vital role not only in ensuring good oral hygiene that can affect your overall health, but also in tracking down conditions that may be affecting your oral health.

Source: http://dentalresource.org

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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