How does bulimia affect overall dental health?

My daughter is an adult now and she has suffered from bulimia for over a decade. It breaks my heart to see the damage she is doing to herself physically, but now we are starting to notice issues with her teeth. How does bulimia affect an individual’s dental health in the long run? She is continuing to seek help and I pray soon this will all be a thing of the past and she can help other young girls in their battles with this horrible eating disorder.

– Helen in Oregon,

Helen,

As you know, bulimia is a very serious eating disorder that has the potential to negatively impact an individual both physically as well as their oral health. With the excessive vomiting, an individual is prone to dehydration which leads to low potassium levels. Ultimately, the kidneys, heart, and mental processing are greatly hindered from this issue alone.

When it comes to the health of a bulimic’s teeth, the repetitive purging after food consumption can lead to the eroding of the tooth enamel and over time can impact the bite in how the teeth come together. The effects of bulimia on teeth typically become evident after three years. The teeth of a bulimic eroded on the back side on the top teeth which can lead to tooth sensitivity and decay. V omitting also causes the salivary glands to swell and the mouth to be constantly dry which promotes tooth decay as well. Aside from dental erosion, the gums of a bulimic tend to suffer as well. When this gums suffer, an individual will eventually become prone to tooth loss.

Helpful dental tips for a bulimic:

  • Stay hydrated by drinking a lot of water. This also helps replace saliva and keeps the mouth moist. Gum chewing can also help create additional saliva.
  • Fluoride is available by prescription which can help delay tooth decay and the eroding of the tooth enamel.
  • After vomiting, drink water and brush the teeth. This will help reduce the potency of the harmful stomach acid on teeth.
  • Brushing the teeth and flossing everyday is helpful.
  • Be open with your dentist and seek care every six months for professional cleanings and examinations. X-rays will also help to determine the condition of teeth as the disease continues.

There is professional medical help, as well as psychiatric help available. Your daughter is not alone. Be there for her and continue to encourage her to break this terrible, destructive disease.

This post is sponsored by Phoenix dentist Arthur Chal Esthetic and Reconstructive Dentistry.

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