Bulimia, or bulimia nervosa, and acid reflux can have a terrible effect on the health of your teeth and the dental changes seen in many people with bulimia are often recognizable.

Effects of bulimia:

  • salivary glands to swell
  • the tissues of your mouth and tongue become dry, red and sore.
  • chronic sore throat
  • small hemorrhages under the skin of the palate

Bulimia is an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.

Many people with bulimia may be malnourished, which can cause anemia, poor healing and increase the risk of periodontal disease.

Bulimia and Oral Health

The types of foods that are eaten and regurgitated during, as well as the digestive acids that come up from the stomach during vomiting, can have an undue, and harmful effect on the enamel of teeth. In addition, complications of bulimia, including heartburn, indigestion, and acid reflux, can increase the acidity of the mouth and contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel.

Sometimes, in those battling with bulimia, such a large amount of the enamel coating dissolves that the underlying layers of the teeth are then uncovered. Because of this, the teeth become much more sensitive because the nerve endings in the underlying layers have become exposed. The risk of having dental cavities become more numerous because the underlying layers are more sensitive to decay and cavities without the protection of the enamel. The looks of the teeth can also change: the underlying tooth structure revealed by the loss of the enamel is more yellowish or grayish than healthy white enamel.

What to Do While Recovering From Bulimia

While getting treated, it may take a while to control the episodes of induced vomiting. To minimize damage done by stomach acid during episodes of vomiting:

  • Rinse your mouth with baking soda mixed in water.
  • You also should rinse with a mouthwash containing .05 percent fluoride, which your dentist can prescribe.
  • Don’t brush your teeth immediately after vomiting because stomach acid weakens tooth enamel and brushing can cause erosion of the enamel.
  • When you do brush, use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. Fluoride helps strengthen teeth.

Dental treatment can be an important part of treatment for your bulimia. Your dentist will work with your health care team and together you can coordinate dental treatment with treatment for the eating disorder. If you have severe tooth damage and are still undergoing treatment for bulimia, your dentist may be able to give you an appliance that covers your teeth and protects them from stomach acids.

Call our office today at (562) 434-6414 to schedule an appointment.