Eating Disorders and Oral Health

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa and bulimia, can have devastating effects on your health, including your teeth.

Anorexia is marked by an extreme restriction on how much is eaten, while bulimia is associated with binging and purging, or vomiting after eating. The effects on teeth and oral hygiene are:

  • Tooth erosion

Caused by stomach acid in vomit and by lack of nutrition, many people who suffer from eating disorders suffer from tooth erosion. Teeth that have eroded might chip easily, appear translucent, and become sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. If enamel has been lost, some restoration techniques include veneers and crowns.

  • Tooth decay

Eating disorders often cause nutritional deficiencies, including calcium. If your body needs calcium and doesn’t have it, it will draw calcium from bones and teeth, possibly leading to tooth decay.

  • Increased risk of infection in the gums

Other nutritional deficiencies caused by eating disorders are a lack of vitamin D and iron, which are necessary to fight infection. Without proper nutrients, there is an increased risk of gum disease.

  • Dry mouth

Highly restrictive eating and frequent vomiting can cause the salivary glands to swell and decrease production. Saliva neutralizes the acid in your mouth and without it, there is an increased risk for tooth decay and infections in the mouth.

Help and support is necessary for recovery, so if you or a loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, please let your healthcare provider know.

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