Eating Disorders & Oral Health

Affecting nearly 10 million Americans, eating disorders are dangerous diseases that can also lead to some serious health concerns. Whether anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating, every eating disorder increases the chance of heart failure, decreases bone density, & causes muscle loss. 

Teeth & Eating Disorders

When someone has an eating disorder, they’re not getting all of the necessary nutrients the body needs to function properly. This includes your mouth. Oftentimes an eating disorder can cause salivary glands to produce less saliva, leading to dry mouth. Dry mouth is linked to bad breath, decay, & gum disease. A lack of crucial nutrients can also cause sores to develop. These often bleed easily & can be quite painful.

If vomiting is a symptom, a whole host of other concerns arise. The constant exposure to stomach acid can erode enamel & even cause teeth to change color or become translucent. In fact, according to the National Eating Disorders Association, 89% of bulimics experience enamel erosion caused by overexposure to stomach acid.  

Signs & Symptoms

Many times a dentist may the first to suspect an eating disorder. This is because many signs first show in the mouth, including:

  • Enlarged salivary glands
  • Chronic dry mouth
  • Tooth decay
  • Sensitivity

What You Can Do to Protect Your Teeth

When battling a disease like an eating disorder, proper medical attention is always the first step. Trusted professionals can help both diagnose the problem & fix it. In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to keep your smile protected.

  • Continue to brush & floss like normal, brushing twice a day & flossing once.
  • If vomit is a factor, do not brush immediately after it happens. Instead, rinse with water.
  • Continue to visit your dentist as often as recommended.

If you have an eating disorder, please seek medical attention as soon as possible. We can help protect your mouth from the damaging effects of eating disorders & work with you throughout the healing process.

Call us today with any questions or to book your appointment!


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