Oral manifestations of eating disorders: a critical review


Dr Lucio Lo Russo, Via Serro D’Annunzio, 55, 83050 Vallesaccarda (AV), Italy. Tel: +39 347 8412304, Fax: +39 0827 976026, E-mail: lorusso.lucio@tiscali.it


Background:  Eating disorders (ED) are a group of psychopathological disorders affecting patient relationship with food and her/his own body, which manifests through distorted or chaotic eating behavior; they include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and ED not otherwise specified and may be burdened with life-threatening complications.

As oral manifestations of ED can occur in many phases of disease progression, they play a significant role in assessment, characterization and prognosis of ED.

Methods:  Mucosal, dental, and salivary abnormalities associated with ED have been reviewed. Relations between oral menifestations and pathogenesis, management and prognosis of ED have been critically analysed.

Results:  Oral manifestations of ED include a number of signs and symptoms involving oral mucosa, teeth, periodontium, salivary glands and perioral tissues; differences exist between patients with anorexia and bulimia. Oral manifestations of ED are caused by a number of factors including nutritional deficiencies and consequent metabolic impairment, poor personal hygiene, drugs, modified nutritional habits and underlying psychological disturbances.

Conclusion:  Oral manifestations of ED can cause impairment of oral function, oral discomfort and pain, and an overall deterioration of aesthetics and quality of life. Their treatment can contribute to overall patient management and prognosis.