Without question, the effects of bulimia on oral health can be dramatic, as frequent vomiting causes inflammation of salivary glands, dry mouth, sensitivity, red sores on the tongue, and small broken blood vessels beneath the palate. Yet, bulimia also proves devastating to dental health, as acids from vomiting erode tooth enamel, particularly in back teeth and upper front teeth.
As part of a vicious cycle of sorts, oral and dental health suffers in many ways, due to bulimia, and some are not as obvious as others. In fact, evidence of tooth erosion sometimes takes up to 3 years to become noticeable. Even so, individuals may experience tooth sensitivity and even changes to their bite. Given that most bulimics are severely malnourished, they are more prone to anemia, and their ability to heal and fight infection is impaired. This, too, gives way to the development of periodontal (gum) disease. Ultimately, individuals with bulimia are at risk for misshapen teeth or teeth that eventually loosen and fall out.
With an awareness of eating disorders and their implications for oral and dental health, dental professionals work to encourage patients in their recovery. For instance, for patients currently in treatment or rehabilitation for bulimia, rinsing the mouth with baking soda mixed with water can help minimize the damage by stomach acids during vomiting. In addition, dentists may prescribe a particular fluoride mouthwash (.05%) to help. Though one may be tempted to brush their teeth immediately following an episode of vomiting, dentists say otherwise. In essence, brushing right after vomiting spreads acids across the teeth and may even contribute to tooth enamel damage. Thus, it’s best to wait at least an hour, and when you do brush your teeth, it’s important to use toothpaste with fluoride.
We’re On Your Side
At Grateful Dental, we realize that patients with eating disorders often avoid the dentist out of fear or regret concerning their dental health. Yet, we want you to know—we’re on your side. Led by Dr. Leia Porcaro, the compassionate team at Grateful Dental wants to empower you in your journey towards better oral and dental health, and we have the resources to help you get there. Call today.