Eating disorders are often associated with regurgitation of gastric contents into the mouth and dental erosion. In this study the dental status was evaluated in bulimic patients. Thirty-five bulimics, diagnosed in the Outpatient Departments of Psychiatry and Adolescent Psychiatry of the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, and 105 controls matched for age, sex, and educational level were examined clinically, and the factors associated with dental erosion and caries were evaluated in an interview. Severe dental erosion and dental caries were significantly commoner among bulimics than controls. Bulimics commonly had a low salivary flow rate, but other apparent risk factors of dental erosion did not differ from those of controls. A feeling of dry mouth was commoner among bulimics than controls, and bulimics had an increased tooth sensitivity to cold and touch. More should be done to protect teeth from dental erosion among bulimics, because loss of tooth tissue remains even if the eating disorder disappears.
The adequacy and appropriateness of the oral health service were evaluated from patient records of 15-year-olds in Helsinki in 1976 and 1986. The subjects selected for the study represented the whole age group participating in public oral health service in the 2 years in question. During the 10 years, substantial decreases were seen in the mean numbers of dental visits (from 4.0 to 2.4) and fillings (from 2.9 to 1.2). The greatest decrease was seen in the number of fillings made in incisors. Slightly fewer preventive measures were carried out in 1986 than 10 years earlier, but no focusing on risk patients was seen. In the 2 years studied, 15-year-olds in the high-risk group received applications of topical fluorides and instructions on oral hygiene as often as those in the low-risk group. A major problem seemed to be the increasing number of unfinished courses of treatment among high-risk patients. We conclude that patients with a higher risk of caries should receive more attention with regard to both the preventive treatment given and ways of motivating them to complete their treatment courses.