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Bulimia and Teeth

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Bulimia and Teeth: Side Effects, Considerations and Treatments

By Bulimia, Bulimia and Teeth, Eating Disorders and Teeth, Oral Health, Tooth Decay No Comments

Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that involves a cycle of binging and purging, which refers to binge eating followed by using compensatory behavior, such as self-induced vomiting, laxative use, excessive exercise, fasting or using diet pills or diuretics to rid the body of calories. It’s a serious, potentially life-threatening condition that can affect all aspects of your health, including your oral health, particularly if you practice self-induced vomiting. While the effects of bulimia on the teeth can be significant, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do about it. Today we’ll be covering everything you need to know about bulimia and teeth from the oral health side effects of the disorder to the treatment options available to restore your smile.
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Do I need crowns or veneers if vomiting is making my teeth chip?

By Bulimia and Teeth, Implant Dentistry

For the past 2 years I’ve been vomiting after meals and I’m wondering if it’s affecting my teeth and if I need crowns or veneers to protect them. My doctors can’t figure out why this is happening. I’ve had all kinds of gastrointestinal tests but nothing is showing up. It doesn’t happen every day, but it does happen at least twice a week, and sometimes more often. I’m not bulimic. I was so concerned that this might be caused by an eating disorder that I went to a psychiatrist. I don’t have any issues with my weight or anything that is consciously causing me so much stress that I’m vomiting. Within the past month or so I noticed that my teeth feel sensitive to hot and cold. Also my left canine tooth is chipped. Is this coming from the vomiting? I already don’t know what’s causing my stomach problems and now I have to worry about dental care and the cost of veneers or dental crowns. Can anything stop the damage? Thanks. April

April – We regret to hear about the issues you’re having with your stomach and how your teeth are being affected. It’s good that you are seeking medical care and trying to find the cause of the problem. Vomiting from bulimia does affect the teeth, as well as the esophagus—but so does persistent vomiting for any reason.

In a short amount of time, if your teeth are repeatedly exposed to stomach acid, they can be damaged. Porcelain veneers only cover the front of your teeth and won’t protect them from the acid. Although dental crowns can help, they might not be necessary. Consider the factors.

How Persistent Vomiting Affects Your Teeth

  • Stomach acid wears away tooth enamel.
  • Damaged tooth enamel fails to be a protective layer and barrier from decay.
  • Repeated exposure to acid will wear away your teeth and expose tooth nerves, creating sensitivity.
  • Weak teeth can chip or crack easily, and become thin or translucent.
  • Over-exposure to stomach acid will also affect your gums and promote gum disease.

What You Can Do

  • Drink plenty of water throughout the day to control the amount of acid in your mouth.
  • Rinse your mouth with water after vomiting. It’s good to keep a bottle of water with you.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth right after vomiting. If you brush your teeth right after they are exposed to acid, the abrasion will weaken them further.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste or toothpaste for sensitive teeth.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for checkups. He or she might recommend prescription-strength fluoride. Your dentist will also monitor the damage to your teeth and determine if any of them need to be protected with dental crowns.
  • Continue to seek medical care and get a second or third opinion. Eventually, you will find the right gastroenterologist or another specialist to help.

Best wishes.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist and board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Eating disorders and your teeth

By Bulimia and Teeth, Eating Disorders and Teeth, General Dentistry, Implant Dentistry

Eating disorders can result from a variety of mental, emotionally, and social issues. Although the impact on the body physique is most prominent, eating disorders can take a devastating toll on the teeth.

Dentists are frequently the first to observe the signs and symptoms of eating disorders. And although patients may not want anyone to be aware of the disorder, it is very beneficial for a dentist to be aware.

Anorexia and Teeth

An intense fear of gaining wait can cause a person to starve himself or herself. Internal organs, muscles, and teeth will all be affected. Self-induced vomiting creates an abundance of acid in the mouth. Misuse of diuretics and laxatives can cause dehydration. All of the activities deprive the body of saliva and moisture, and promote rapid tooth decay—even loss of teeth.

Bulimia and Teeth

Binge eating followed by periods of purging through vomiting or laxatives has the same damaging effects on the body as anorexia—decreased saliva and dehydration. Teeth suffer in an acidic, moisture-deprived environment. More than 80% of bulimic patients show signs of tooth erosion, which if left untreated will become severe, resulting in teeth that crumble, rot, or fall out.

More than the teeth are affected

In addition to causing teeth to decay and crumble, eating disorders can cause salivary glands to become enlarged, lips to chafe and crack, lesions to form in the mouth, and cause the throat to become irritated and dry.


People with eating disorders need professional help to recover from the illness. A dentist will advise you not to brush your teeth immediately after vomiting, but to thoroughly rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acid from the vomit. As you progress toward recovery, your dentist will discuss ways to protect your teeth from further damage, as well as ways to restore damaged teeth. When you are well on the road to recovery, your teeth can be restored to beautifully match the new you.

This post is sponsored by Naperville dentist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

Nervous about my dentist referring me to a prosthodontist to fix my teeth from bulimia

By Bulimia and Teeth, Implant Dentistry, Prosthodontist

I have mixed feelings about being referred to another dentist for my teeth. I have a lot of trust in my dentist but this time she doesn’t trust herself, at least not with my teeth. I have been struggling with bulimia for 7 years or so. I finally found the right counselor to help me but it’s a little late for my teeth. My dentist said that she prefers that I see a specialist so she is referring me to a prosthodontist. My discomfort is in having to explain myself and my story all over again. Is this really necessary, or should I try to find a way to get my dentist to do the work herself? Thank. C.T.

Dear C.T. – We sympathize with your concern over having to discuss your health concerns with a new dental provider. That is a difficult step to take.

You mentioned that you trust your dentist. At this point, you may consider trusting her judgment that she is not the best dentist to give you the best results for restoring your smile. A prosthodontist specializes in restoring and replacing teeth, and many have received additional training to produce beautiful results. Many prosthodontists have experience with patients whose teeth are damaged due to eating disorders. Sometimes a case can be more difficult than a general dentist is comfortable handling. Your dentist likely took that into consideration when referring you to this particular prosthodontist—he or she has likely treated many cases similar to yours. This factor also helps the specialist to be sensitive to your concerns.

To increase your comfort level with the prosthodontist, in advance of dental treatment, schedule a consultation with him or her. Get to know the specialist, ask questions about the kind of cases he or she has handled, and try to be frank about your concerns. Taking time to get to know the dentist before treatment begins may help to increase your confidence in the specialist. If you find that you are not comfortable with the specialist, speak with your dentist about it, and if necessary, ask for another referral.

This post is sponsored by Naperville board-certified prosthodontist Dr. Anthony LaVacca.

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