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Erosion of Teeth and Other Keys to Detecting Bulimia

dca-blog_eating-disorders-and-dental-health

A serious eating disorder and teeth problems often go hand in hand. Millions of Americans suffer from bulimia nervosa, which is characterized by unhealthy eating behaviors including cyclical binge eating and purging. Common purging behaviors include frequent self-induced vomiting and laxative use. Although many bulimia sufferers are able to hide their condition from their families, friends, and even their doctors, it is difficult to keep the condition a secret at the dentist’s office. Significant changes inside the mouth of a bulimic patient are easily detected during a routine oral exam.

Common Bulimia Effects on Teeth

A strong indicator of bulimic behavior is surface erosion of teeth, which is caused by exposure to stomach acids during vomiting. The enamel and dentin loss typically occurs on the front inside surfaces of upper teeth. Affected teeth have a smooth, glass-like appearance and are free from stains. When erosion of teeth includes molars, patients become highly susceptible to decay and nerve infection. These bulimia effects on teeth often become obvious after the patient has been engaging in induced vomiting for at least two years. The degree of tooth erosion and the frequency of vomiting are related. If damage is allowed to progress, patients may experience tooth sensitivity, changes in bite, dry mouth, parotid gland swelling, and gum injuries. 



Treating Both an Eating Disorder and Teeth Damage

Because of the serious nature of an eating disorder and teeth problems, as well as the effects on general health, it is important to treat both the dental manifestations and the underlying condition. The following recommendations and treatments can be useful for bulimic patients in recovery:

  • Commitment to professional medical treatment of eating disorder
  • Strict dental hygiene habits
  • Desensitizing toothpaste
  • Artificial saliva
  • Regular dental exams and professional cleanings
  • Treatments to promote re-mineralization
  • Rinsing with water after vomiting
  • Refraining from brushing teeth immediately after vomiting
  • Healthy diet and supplemental calcium as needed
  • Cosmetic dental restoration after recovery

To get the dental care you deserve from an affordable dentist in Detroit, call Gentle Dental of Michigan today at or make an appointment.


Gentle Dental of Michigan offers affordable family dentistry and gentle, compassionate dental care in Detroit. With 8 affiliated practices throughout Detroit, our offices are conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At Gentle Dental of Michigan, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures and complete dental reconstruction. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover an affordable dentist who truly cares at Gentle Dental of Michigan.

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