Eating Disorders Awareness Week

EDAW – What is it and how does it affect you?

If you were asked what the month of February was most known for, Valentine’s Day would probably feature in your answer. However, it is not the only event that you should be aware of.

EDAW is the Eating Disorders Awareness Week and it’s an international event designed to raise awareness of the risks, signs and symptoms of eating disorders. Held from 26 February to 4 March this year, it provides an opportunity to brush up on your knowledge of the subject and do what you can for those of your patients who might be suffering.

Don’t get caught up in the stereotypes

While eating disorders are often associated with adolescent girls who might be going through a difficult time, it’s important to remember that others can be just as at risk. For example, a quarter of people with such disorders are thought to be male. Similarly, 15% of calls to the Beat Eating Disorders charity helpline were about people aged over 40-years-old in 2015.

In addition, a study by Fairburn and Harrison (2003) found that approximately 80-85% of people with eating disorders are not underweight – proving that all your stereotypical risk factors for an eating disorder are definitely not the only ones to look out for.1

Your role

We have been aware of a correlative relationship between eating disorders and a decline in oral health for several decades.2,3 The risk of developing dry mouth, tooth decay and gum disease is higher in individuals that suffer from an eating disorder, while the frequent vomiting that results from conditions such as bulimia nervosa can cause erosion and increased sensitivity.4 For those with anorexia nervosa, the lack of nutritional intake may also lead to osteoporosis.5

As with many other health conditions and diseases, early detection is key to reducing the negative consequences on a person’s health, but diagnosis is difficult due to the sufferer’s reluctance to discuss it.

Educating patients on the possible oral health risks of an eating disorder is a good place to start. Where an eating disorder is suspected, mentioning general oral health advice such as waiting half an hour after vomiting to brush the teeth can be useful. Referral to an eating disorder specialist or healthcare professional may also be necessary.

Similarly, suggesting oral health adjuncts that will be gentle on the teeth and gums and help patients maintain oral health would be advised. The Waterpik® Water Flosser is a prime example here as it is a safe, effective and easy-to-use product for a wide range of patients, clinically proven to reduce gingivitis6, probing pocket depth7 and bleeding.8 There are various models and tips available to suit every patient’s needs.

February Focus on Dental Implants

Good oral hygiene routines and effective products are just as important for patients with dental implants. Optimising dental health prior to implant treatment helps to lower levels of bacteria in the mouth and reduce the risk of infection occurring after implants and/or restorations have been fitted, as peri-implantitis is linked to the same microbiota as would be responsible for periodontitis.9

Following treatment, patients need effective tools to help clean around their implant-supported crowns or bridges – the Waterpik® Water Flosser is twice as effective for improving gum health around implants10 compared to string floss. What’s more, the Plaque Seeker® Tips are ideal for accessing around implants, with three thin filament tufts to remove stubborn plaque from difficult-to-reach areas.


  1. Beat Eating Disorders. Do I have an eating disorder? [Access January 2018]
  2. Hellstrom I. Oral complications in anorexia nervosa. Scandinavian Journal of Dental Research (1977); 85: 71–86.
  3. Hurst P S, Lacey J H, Crisp A H. Teeth, vomiting and diet: a study of the dental characteristics of seventeen anorexia nervosa patients. Postgraduate Medical Journal (1977); 53: 298–305.
  4. NEDA (National Eating Disorder Association. Dental complications of eating disorders. [Accessed January 2018]
  5. National Centre for Eating Disorders. Information. Caring for your teeth. [Accessed January 2018]
  6. Barnes, CM, Russell CM, Reinhardt RA et al (2005) Comparison of irrigation to floss as an adjunct to tooth brushing: effect on bleeding, gingivitis and supragingival plaque. J Clin Dent. 16(3): 71 -77.
  7. Jolkovsky DL et al (1990) Clinical and microbiological effects of subgingival and gingival marginal irrigation with chlorhexidine gluconate. J Periodontol. 61: 663-669.
  8. Barnes, CM, Russell CM, Reinhardt RA et al (2005) Comparison of irrigation to floss as an adjunct to tooth brushing: effect on bleeding, gingivitis and supragingival plaque. J Clin Dent. 16(3): 71 -77.
  9. Jepsen S, Berglundh T, Genco R, Aass AM, Demirel K, Derks J, Figuero E, Giovannoli JL, Goldstein M, Lambert F, Ortiz-Vigon A, Polyzois I, Salvi GE, Schwarz F, Serino G, Tomasi C, Zitzmann NU. Primary prevention of periimplantitis: managing peri-implant mucositis. J Clin Periodontol 2015; 42 (Suppl. 16): S152–S157. doi: 10.1111/jcpe.12369.
  10. Magnuson B, et al. Comparison of the effect of two interdental cleaning devices around implants on the reduction of bleeding: A 30-day randomized clinical trial. Compend of Contin Ed in Dent 2013; 34 (Special Issue 8):2-7.