Bulimia nervosa, commonly known as bulimia, is an eating disorder that involves episodes of binging (overeating) and then self-induced vomiting, known as purging. One of the common side effects of this disorder is damage to the individuals teeth, which can be embarrassing and painful. Let’s take a look at how bulimia affects the teeth and how to treat it.
How Bulimia Affects Teeth
Eating disorders impact oral health in several ways, but individuals with bulimia nervosa generally see the most damage due to the cycles of binging and purging. Looking beyond the types and amounts of food consumed during a binge, the damage caused by frequent purging can be significant.
Every time you purge, the vomit brings up gastric acids from your stomach, which are highly erosive. Continued exposure to these acids can damage teeth and the soft tissues of the mouth in several ways. You can see many of these signs within six months.
- Tooth Erosion occurs as the surface enamel wears away.
- Cavities develop more quickly.
- Teeth appear yellow and brittle.
- In some cases, the damage disrupts bite alignment.
- Repeated vomiting can cause salivary glands to swell and impact their ability to produce saliva.
- Mouth sores may develop.
Individuals may experience repeated dry mouth, which can lead to other problems. Additionally, there will likely be pain related to the weakening of their teeth.
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Treatment for Damaged Teeth Due to Purging
If you experience frequent vomiting, it’s critical that you take extra precautions to protect your oral health. There are many things you can do to minimize the damage.
- Don’t skip dental visits because your routine cleanings can help, and your dentist can prescribe special treatment options.
- Fluoride can strengthen your tooth enamel, so brush with fluoridated toothpaste.
- Stop brushing immediately after vomiting because it can make things worse. Instead, rinse with water to remove as much of the acid as possible, then gently brush with a fluoridated toothpaste and soft bristled brush.
- Your dentist can prescribe specific treatments, including a fluoride rinse or special toothpaste.
The best thing you can do for your teeth, and your overall health, is to seek treatment for bulimia. Stopping the cycle of binging and purging is crucial and may involve a team of professionals for support. If you or someone you know needs help, reach out to NEDA Feeding Hope, Eating Disorder Hope, or Project Heal.
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Long-Term Solutions for Damaged Teeth Due to Purging
Bulimia is a psychiatric condition that requires treatment from professionals. Your dental team can help with your oral health, but until you manage your binging and purging, it’s difficult to provide long-term solutions. However, once you gain control of your condition, there are more options for repairing your teeth.
Trust your dental team to care for your oral health. Depending on the damage, dentists can repair damaged teeth with fillings or crowns, but some teeth may require extraction.
Remember, you have options to save your teeth. The caring, professional team at Jefferson Dental & Orthodontics is here for you. Book an appointment at the dental office nearest you.