Today's topic is teeth. Yeah, I know, I've talked about it before on here. But I think it is one of the neglected parts of our bodies we talk about with eating disorders. And let's face it realistically, many of the symptoms, ie starving, purging, chewing/spitting, etc. can all cause some major teeth damage. It's only been fairly recently that we've realized how early dentists can pick up on the preliminary effects of an eating disorder, though I'm still not sure how much it is discussed in general (for one, none of my dentists ever said anything, I had to tell them)
For those off you who don't know my story, I was bulimic for many years. For over a decade now, I've had some numerous teeth problems, costing thousands of dollars, no joke! It is sadly probably one of the permanent damages from my eating disorder. Currently, I need like 3 or 4 implants and a bridge replaced. No fun, everyone. It sucks to lose your teeth to harsh, violating acts you have done on your body.
So here's the thing. Though logically I knew my teeth damage was likely permanent, I did have some hope I could reverse part of the damage or at least keep it at bay by not purging which I kicked when I began my "true" recovery about 2 1/2 years ago (gosh, it has been hard to believe it has been that long) For me, training for the marathon that year (2008) was part of the impetus to end that bittersweet love affair. There have been some other complications with that, but that is another story for another day.
A few weeks ago, I had a dental appointment. This was for a general cleaning (last time, they just did a light cleaning due to some "pockets") and to have 3 cavities filled. Yes 3! Prior to this, I didn't have any indications other than some slight tenderness to coldness. There hasn't been any purging in a long time, there was no major killer infection or toothache this time, yet still, I was surprised to have 3 cavities! I also have an irritation where one of my teeth was extracted, but my dentist said she could not find anything. It's annoying knowing that something is causing that irritation but not to have a reason.
In some wrong assumption (you know where logic fails you), I had thought that once I stopped purging, all my teeth problems would be resolved. I had felt that just like I was taking care of my body, I was also taking care of my teeth in the same way. I brushed, flossed (okay, this could be better), rarely drank soda or carbonated beverages, etc., but problems still arose. Don't get me wrong, I have far less trouble with my teeth than before, but it is still a reminder that I must be vigilant about them. And that, yes, I will likely always have some susceptibility to teeth problems.
So people, the take home message is don't forget about your teeth! You may not think you are doing damage now, but this like other symptoms of an ED can be lasting and permanent. This certainly doesn't mean that if you have teeth damage, then the hell with it, there is no hope. But rather, be vigilant, remind yourself that you only have your teeth once, so just like the rest of your body, they are important to take care of. (there's only been a very few people that I've known who could actually grow teeth!) Go see your dentist! Just like you would see a medical doctor, therapist, psychiatrist, or dietitian/nutritionist, your dentist is important too!
Okay, I'm done for my spiel of the day. :-)