How Can Oral Health Professionals Aid Eating Disorders?

Michael Prado, CDM Class of 2025

Name: Michael Prado
School: College of Dental Medicine, Class of 2025
Mentor: Kathleen Pike, PhD

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The aim of this study was to perform a commentary of the current state of scientific literature on the secondary prevention of eating disorders (EDs) by oral health professionals (OHPs). EDs, including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are psychiatric illnesses that impact all body systems, including oral health (OH). Papers that write about this link to OH have been published for over 30 years. Overall, these papers have successfully identified the effect of EDs on OH. These papers were extracted from a previously conducted search for a scoping review of the same topic. PubMed and Embase were used to find literature for ED and OH that was published after the year 2000. From the original collection for the scoping review, 9 papers were related to OHPs’ knowledge and confidence related to EDs and secondary prevention. 5 of the papers shared the primary OH conditions associated with EDs, which are parotid gland hypertrophy, enamel erosion, xerostomia, and temperature sensitivity. 4 other papers investigated educational interventions that were effective at increasing OHPs’ self- efficacy, knowledge of oral manifestations, treatment, and attitudes towards the secondary treatment of EDs. The field has long been aware of the potential for irreversible OH damage from EDs. In order to get the best outcome, OHPs should be educated on the dental manifestations to optimize the early diagnosis and treatment of this potentially deadly condition. Future consideration should be given to creating a standardized curriculum on EDs and treatment at the dental school and professional levels.