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Eating disorders and your teeth

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.

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