Can Eating Disorders Affect My Dental Health?


Do you know that eating disorders are a lot more prominent among women as compared to men?

Eating disorders are becoming a lot more common nowadays with more and more people increasingly feeling the need to look a lot thinner to meet social expectations. Unfortunately, this can damage their teeth and lead to a multitude of other dental problems which can affect their overall health.

The two most common eating disorders out there are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa.

Bulimia nervosa is characterized by constant and excessive amounts of eating after which there is self-induced vomiting (purging).

Anorexia nervosa, on the other hand, is defined by an extreme phobia of gaining weight and the inability to maintain a normal or constant weight according to your height along with conscious starving methods.

So How Exactly Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Oral Health?

People that suffer from an eating disorder are generally ignorant about it for a long time but the first symptoms that indicate that you are suffering from an eating disorder will usually tend to pop up in the mouth and the lack of your daily nutrients can lead to harmful effects on your teeth.

Without any timely treatment, the adverse effects of an untreated eating disorder can be long-lasting or permanent.

Here are 6 Complications Caused by Eating Disorders:

  1. Bleeding

Your saliva producing glands tend to start bleeding when your body does not receive the correct amount of nutrition, causing your gums and tissues to dry out.


  1. Effects of Nutritional Deficiency

If you suffer from anorexia, then your food intake is automatically limited which in turn can cause nutritional deficiency. Nutrients like iron, vitamin B and calcium are important to sustain good oral health. Lack of sufficient calcium intake can lead to higher chances of contracting gum disease and tooth decay.


Lack of enough iron minerals in your diet will lead to the formation of sores in your mouth whereas low amounts of B3 can cause bad breath and the development of canker sores. If your gums become swollen and turn an angry red color then you may have gingivitis. Dehydration can make all the above conditions worse by drying out your mouth.


  1. Effects of Frequent Vomiting

People who suffer from bulimia tend to eat excessively after which they will start to force the consumed food out of their bodies. This constant vomiting will tend to affect your oral health as your teeth are directly exposed to your strong stomach acid. Constant cycles of vomiting and exposure to your stomach acid will wear down and erode your tooth enamel causing your teeth to change shape, color, and size as they slowly degrade and become brittle.


  1. Degenerative Arthritis

Degenerative arthritis is usually found in the temporomandibular joint of your jaw which is usually linked with eating disorders. The temporomandibular jaw joint is located at the point where the lower jaw is hinged to the skull. You will usually experience pain in this spot when they are suffering from arthritis along with suffering from headaches and difficulty with chewing and even opening or closing your mouth.


  1. Soft Palate Damage

The upper surface area of your mouth is hardly ever damaged during your day-to-day activities. Any redness, cuts, and scratches are generally caused by vomiting (purging).


  1. Enlarged Salivary Glands

Most people suffering from eating disorders will alternate between binging and purging. This will lead to enlarged salivary glands. This is a very painful experience as well as being visible to other people, causing extreme emotional distress in certain cases.


Treat Your Disorder and Restore Your Oral Health

Do not underestimate the importance of dental health and start working towards restoring your oral health is part of the recovery process and improving your overall health. If you or someone you know suffers from an eating disorder then it is important that you get medical attention promptly.


It is not advisable to pursue any tooth restorations until the affected person undergoes treatment to overcome the disorder first. Here are some steps that you can take to reduce your dental health problems:

  • Do not brush directly after vomiting
  • Rinse and gargle your mouth with fluoride mouth rinse after purging
  • Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste
  • Ask your dentist for a fluoride topical application which you can apply daily and prevent tooth decay and build stronger teeth
  • Use temporary appliances like mouth guards to avoid extra wear

If you or someone you know is suffering from an eating disorder, schedule an appointment with your dentist today!

Author Bio:  Emily Taylor found the perfect fit for herself as the Online Marketing Manager at Thurman Orthodontics in Fresno CA as she believes that a great smile does more than just make a person look great – it makes them feel great as well. The power of a smile has always been a mystery to Emily and she loves researching and writing about it. She loves to write about everything to do with a healthy bite and a beautiful smile – whether is it ways to achieve it or the importance of it in the various aspects of life. What brings a big smile on Emily’s face is her family and surfing. She also likes to bake and her children and co-workers call her the cookie fairy!


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