We all know that eating disorders can wreck havoc on oral health. Bulimia, most notably can take a heavier toll at first symptoms which continue to accumulate further as the eating disorder progresses. In this press release, Dr. Brian McKay, a dentist in Seattle, discusses his new book, Bulimia is a Dental Disease.
McKay's goal is not only to educate about the damage of bulimia to one's oral health, but also to bring together the dental community in helping eating disorder clients. McKay says, "We need a change in the Standard of Care. Dentists must form alliances with eating disorder professionals. Together we can treat both the mental and oral aspects of this disease and the result should be a higher success rate. There is nothing more inviting than seeing someone smile again."
To my knowledge, this is the first book exclusively addressing bulimia and dental health. I have no clue how the book is, but I think it is a good step to help educate and bridge the gap between dentists and eating disorder clients.
In my opinion, I think even if dentists may know there is a problem, there is a hesitancy in bringing up the issue despite the fact that some clients may come in multiple times or simply for one visit never to be seen again. As much time as I've spent in dentists' offices over the last twelve years, not one brought up or asked about my eating disorder. It kind of felt like the giant elephant in the room. It wasn't until a few years ago when I changed dentists and decided to be completely honest that it was discussed. I found them (there were two at the time) to be non-judgmental and helpful, even when I was so frustrated that the damage was completely irreversible despite reducing my purging behavior.
The take home message is that dentists and professionals need to collaborate together to help their eating disorder clients. In effect, this will allow clients to communicate and discuss these issues, even if it is only about damage control, like Lola posts about here.