Bulimia Nervosa and Oral Health

Bulimia Nervosa and Oral Health

As we start to enter the holiday season, it’s important to recognize that for some people, this time of year is especially difficult. Stress, depression, pressure at school, and a seemingly constant focus on food can become the perfect storm for someone with an eating disorder such as bulimia.

Bulimia is a serious eating disorder involving binge eating, and then purging the food through laxative use, vomiting, and/or excessive exercise.

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that bulimia affects up to 4.2% of women in the U.S., 95% between the ages of 12 and 25. Bulimia doesn’t just affect women, though – 10-15% of the cases are in young men and the rate is disproportionately high among gay men and boys.

Bulimia wreaks havoc on the body, including the teeth.  Stomach acid is incredibly strong and after passing through the mouth and coating the teeth, the enamel begins to erode, causing tooth decay, discoloration, and sensitivity. While people with bulimia often brush their teeth immediately after vomiting, this only worsens the damage from toothpaste abrasives on the weakened enamel. It’s better to rinse with water to neutralize the acid, and then wait a few hours before brushing.

Naturally, the best course of action is to get help! We are a caring resource for identifying the issue, working with patients to restore dental health, and coordinating with our patient’s medical team to help combat the effects of bulimia and other eating disorders.

If you would like assistance treating an eating disorder, or know someone who needs help, the National Eating Disorder Association offers a toll-free, confidential help line at 1-800-931-2237.

At Distinctive Dentistry, we take our roles as your family dentist and dental hygiene team, very seriously. We are passionate about providing optimal dental care to our patients of all ages. If you have questions about these or any other dental care topics, we’re just a phone call away!

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