How Bulimia Affects Teeth

How Bulimia Affects Teeth

This eating disorder can damage vital organs — and that includes teeth!

Bulimia is an eating disorder characterized by periods of binge eating followed by purging and affects approximately 1 percent of young women and 0.1 percent of young men. Unlike anorexia, bulimia patients can sometimes appear to be at an average weight.

The constant binging and purging, either with laxatives or vomiting, take a severe toll on the body. Bulimia patients often suffer from vitamin deficiencies. Over the long term, the disorder can also damage vital organs. But another consequence of bulimia is its damaging effect on the teeth. 

Six ways bulimia harms your teeth

Depriving yourself of vital nutrients may cause long-term damage to the heart, kidneys, and other vital organs. But did you know that your teeth and gums can also face severe consequences? Here are a few ways:

Enamel loss. Purging churns up stomach acid needed to break down food for digestion. However, those same acids can wear away the protective layer of enamel on teeth. With less enamel, teeth are more prone to decay and cavities.

Tooth pain and sensitivity. Enamel also protects the nerves of the inner tooth. Without it, teeth may hurt more and become sensitive to hot and cold foods.

Sores. Those same stomach acids also have a corrosive effect on the delicate skin in the mouth and throat. Painful sores along the throat and inside the mouth may develop.

Swollen salivary glands. Salivary glands produce saliva to make swallowing easier and eliminate decay-causing food particles. Repeated vomiting episodes can inflame and cause swollen salivary glands, which can reduce the amount of saliva in the mouth and lead to tooth decay and other problems.

Dry mouth. A lack of saliva can also lead to an uncomfortable condition known as dry mouth. A dry mouth makes swallowing difficult, and foods may taste funny. 

Brittle, discolored teeth. The constant flow of stomach acid along the teeth can make them brittle and discolored. A jagged line along the bottom of the teeth can also appear. 

Reversing dental damage from bulimia

Dental damage from bulimia is reversible if treated early. A dentist can repair the damage by:

Filling cavities. If the loss of enamel leads to a cavity, a dentist can restore it with a filling.

Prescribing fluoride treatments. Fluoride treatments and fluoride toothpaste can strengthen the enamel, preventing decay. Another way to protect the teeth is to rinse with water after purging. This will remove the acids before you brush with fluoride toothpaste. 

Restoring broken teeth. If bulimia has eroded a tooth to the point where it breaks, a dentist can fix it with several restorative procedures.

Unfortunately, any dental fix from the ravages of bulimia is only temporary. It doesn’t get to the true source of the problem, and that’s the condition itself. Anyone with bulimia needs long-term treatment to deal with the eating disorder for their overall health, not just their teeth. 

Your oral health is important!

Schedule an appointment at Espire’s La Mesa location today! Our highly trained dentists can examine your teeth thoroughly and suggest restorative measures to maintain your oral health. Don’t live near our La Mesa, CA office? Find one of our other locations near you.

La Mesa, CA
8555 Fletcher Parkway 
Suite 102 
La Mesa, CA 91942