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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Self-induced vomiting and dental erosion – a clinical study

Marte-Mari Uhlen*, Anne Bjørg Tveit, Kjersti Refsholt Stenhagen and Aida Mulic

Author Affiliations

Department of Cariology, Institute of Clinical Dentistry, Faculty of Dentistry, University of Oslo, PO Box 1109, Oslo N-0317, Norway

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BMC Oral Health 2014, 14:92  doi:10.1186/1472-6831-14-92

Published: 29 July 2014

Abstract

Background

In individuals suffering from eating disorders (ED) characterized by vomiting (e.g. bulimia nervosa), the gastric juice regularly reaches the oral cavity, causing a possible risk of dental erosion. This study aimed to assess the occurrence, distribution and severity of dental erosions in a group of Norwegian patients experiencing self-induced vomiting (SIV).

Methods

The individuals included in the study were all undergoing treatment at clinics for eating disorders and were referred to a university dental clinic for examinations. One calibrated clinician registered erosions using the Visual Erosion Dental Examination (VEDE) system.

Results

Of 72 referred patients, 66 (63 females and three males, mean age 27.7 years) were or had been experiencing SIV (mean duration 10.6 years; range: 3 – 32 years), and were therefore included in the study. Dental erosions were found in 46 individuals (69.7%), 19 had enamel lesions only, while 27 had both enamel and dentine lesions. Ten or more teeth were affected in 26.1% of those with erosions, and 9% had ≥10 teeth with dentine lesions. Of the erosions, 41.6% were found on palatal/lingual surfaces, 36.6% on occlusal surfaces and 21.8% on buccal surfaces. Dentine lesions were most often found on lower first molars, while upper central incisors showed enamel lesions most frequently. The majority of the erosive lesions (48.6%) were found in those with the longest illness period, and 71.7% of the lesions extending into dentine were also found in this group. However, despite suffering from SIV for up to 32 years, 30.3% of the individuals showed no lesions.

Conclusions

Dental erosion commonly affects individuals with ED experiencing SIV, and is more often found on the palatal/lingual surfaces than on the buccal in these individuals, confirming a common clinical assumption.

Keywords:
Dental erosion; Eating disorders; Vomiting