What does bulimia do to your teeth?

bulimia and the teeth

bulimia and the teeth

The mouth is the most faithful reflection of our general health; in the dental chair, the practitioner will be able to recognize all kinds of conditions, even those the patient tries to hide, such as bulimia, one of the most aggressive disorders for oral health. To prevent the damage it causes or treat it early, the condition must be  monitored. According to a study conducted by the National Eating Disorders Association, nearly 20 million women and 10 million men in the U.S. have suffered from an eating disorder at some point in their lives. One of the most common and most frequent types in women and adolescents is bulimia nervosa.

Some of the most influential factors are social norms and prototypes that place a lot of emphasis on thinness and a perfect body. These factors interact to increase the risk of excessive dieting and eating behaviors that can become harmful. In some adolescents, family problems are the most important factor, while for others, social norms are the key elements determining its appearance. In people who suffer from bulimia nervosa, it is characterized by the consumption of large amounts of food followed by self-induced vomiting. Most people vomit at least twice a day up to twenty times. This occurs when the person feels a lack of control over eating, leading to self-rejection and causing vomiting to prevent weight gain. Of note, vomiting often produces a feeling of relief. Bulimics are often of a normal weight but may find themselves overweight. As their weight is often maintained, this eating disorder may not be noticed by others.

How does Bulimia affect the teeth?

Changes in the teeth of people with bulimia are somewhat easy to recognize, with vomiting being the most damaging cause. In general, the salivary glands and tissues of the mouth become swollen, and the tongue becomes dry, red, and sore. You can also suffer from chronic pharyngitis and small hemorrhages under the skin of the palate. Some basic points to consider:

· Vomit erodes teeth

When we vomit, acids are produced in the body that pass from the stomach to the mouth.These acids are so corrosive that they remove the enamel that covers and protects the teeth. Dental erosion is one of the most aggressive events of bulimia; the more often vomiting occurs, the greater the erosion caused by the contact of vomit acid with dental surfaces.

  • Brushing after vomiting

Another factor that increases tooth erosion is the inappropriate brushing usually done after each vomiting session. People with bulimia tend to constantly rub their teeth vigorously to prevent bad breath from giving them away. This affects the surface of the teeth, leaving them vulnerable to other ailments and increasing sensitivity, in addition to wearing down the gums. Tooth erosion can take about three years to become obvious, but not all bulimics experience it.

  • Caries

When we lack enamel, our teeth become weakened and engender cavities. Bacteria easily acts on the teeth, which can cause them to become sensitive to variations in temperature. Bacteria can also damage nerve, causing the future loss of the tooth.

  • Yellow and brittle teeth

As erosion grows, teeth become discolored and their texture changes. Due to a lack of enamel, the denture becomes brittle. Bulimia can change the shape and length of teeth; they can easily chip and appear irregular. In addition, this can lead to changes in one’s bite (occlusion) or the way the upper and lower teeth meet. The posterior teeth can be reduced in size.

  • Hypersensitivity

By losing the most superficial layer covering the teeth, either due to acid or excessive brushing, the tooth is exposed when it comes into contact with foods that are very cold, hot, acidic or contain large amounts of sugar, causing pain. It is common for the person to also feel discomfort during brushing.

  • Canker and mouth Sores:

Just as stomach acid wears down tooth enamel, it can also damage the throat and oral cavity. The acid also damages soft tissues, opening painful sores. Many people with bulimia suffer from a constant sore throat.

  • Periodontal alterations:

Due to a low or no intake of nutrients essential to maintain the tissues that support the teeth, there may be a loss of bone density and/or teeth, as well as damage to the tissues that keep them in the mouth. One of the most affected structures is usually the gums, since most patients experience dryness or little salivation.The gum does not receive sufficient hydration, causing a greater accumulation of bacteria; thus, it is very likely that the person will develop gingivitis.

  • Xerostomía

Xerostomia is a sensation of dryness in the mouth that can make speech and swallowing difficult. It causes bad breath and makes oral hygiene difficult. Xerostomia is caused by a malfunction of the salivary glands. This dysfunction can be temporary, chronic, or even permanent.

  • Enlargement of the parotid glands

Es probable que las personas que vomitan muchas veces presenten aumento de tamaño de las glándulas parótidas, éstas se encuentran a ambos lados de la cara. La inflamación parotídea será proporcional a la duración y severidad de la conducta de los vómitos. En estadios iniciales, el aumento de tamaño de las glándulas parótidas puede aparecer y desaparecer. La deformidad facial se observa como un aspecto de cara ancha y cuadrada a nivel de la parte baja de la cara, lo que ocasiona una ilusión óptica, donde les da la apariencia de observarse “gordo” sin estarlo realmente

How can we prevent and treat these effects? bulimia and the teeth

Bulimia requires the intervention of several specialists. At Channel Island Family Dental, we can remove cavities, repair broken teeth, and help take care of your gums. However, the ultimate solution will only be found when the continuous vomiting is stopped and a balanced diet is restored.

  • In the office:

In cases of serious enamel deterioration, rehabilitative treatments are required with veneers, crowns, and caps made of different materials. If tooth loss has occurred, we can put in place dental implants while in cases of tooth sensitivity, we will perform desensitizing treatments to block the transmission of the stimulus to the nerve. Taking care of the oral condition and performing treatments on these patients is vital for an evident improvement of the oral cavity. Thereby, the patient sees a change in self-image and self-esteem. It comes down to dental aesthetics. An added bonus is to improve patient health. If you have severe tooth damage and are still undergoing treatment for bulimia, your dentist may give you an appliance that covers your teeth and protects them from stomach acid.

  • At home: For sensitivity

Además de aplicarle tratamientos con fluoruro durante sus visitas al consultorio también puede indicarse un gel de fluoruro para uso doméstico.

  • At home: Tooth brushing

One mistake bulimic patients make is brushing their teeth immediately after vomiting. This is not advisable since the enamel is more sensitive and brushing can cause more abrasion.It is important to carry out correct oral hygiene. Thus, hygiene instructions will be given, recommending that bulimic patients wait a minimum of 30 minutes to brush their teeth so that the erosive activity does not increase. For this brushing, avoid abrasive pastes and look for soft bristle brushes.

  • At home: Diet

it will help to further prevent dental erosion by avoiding acidic foods or beverages.

Contact us

Visit our dentist in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Port Hueneme, and Newbury Park regularly since it is of great importance to have periodic check-ups to prevent possible problems and maintain excellent oral health. 

If you have any questions about this or another topic, you contact us at Channel Island Family Dental,and our Facebook. Channel Island Family Dental be attentive to your needs and reach an early diagnosis. In addition, our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park y Port Hueneme will guide you to the best treatment to return your best smile.

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