Dental Detective Work – Spotting Bulimia Effects on Teeth

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Millions of people have an eating disorder known as bulimia nervosa. Bulimic individuals typically eat large amounts of food, and then eliminate it through self-induced vomiting. Many bulimics are able to keep their condition a secret from people close to them. Friends, families, spouses, and even doctors may not suspect there is a problem. However, an eating disorder and teeth problems often become obvious during a routine dental exam. Bulimia effects on teeth, gums, and mouth of a bulimic person are easily spotted by an experienced dentist or dental hygienist.

Erosion of Teeth

Erosion of teeth is an indicator of bulimic behavior, and is caused by exposure to stomach acids during vomiting. The loss of enamel and dentin typically occurs on the inside surfaces of upper front teeth. Affected teeth have a smooth, glass-like appearance and are free from stains. When erosion of teeth includes molars, patients become highly susceptible to decay and nerve infection. These bulimia effects on teeth often become obvious after the patient has been engaging in induced vomiting for at least two years. The degree of tooth erosion and the frequency of vomiting are related. If damage is allowed to progress, patients may experience tooth sensitivity, changes in bite, dry mouth, parotid gland swelling, and gum injuries. 



12 Ways to Treat an Eating Disorder and Teeth Damage Problems

Because of the serious nature of eating disorders and their effects on general health and oral health, it is important to treat both the dental manifestations and the underlying condition. The treatments and recommendations listed below may be helpful to bulimic patients during recovery.

  1. Schedule routine dental exams
  2. Have regular professional cleanings
  3. Follow strict dental hygiene habits
  4. Brush with desensitizing toothpaste
  5. Use artificial saliva
  6. Take calcium supplements as needed
  7. Get dental treatments to promote tooth re-mineralization
  8. Rinse with water after vomiting
  9. Avoid brushing teeth immediately after vomiting
  10. Seek medical treatment of bulimia
  11. Undergo cosmetic dental restoration after recovery
  12. Eat a healthy diet

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