How fast does bulimia begin to damage teeth?

I’m an adult, and recently started vomiting or purging after meals. I don’t have weight issues, and don’t consider myself bulimic. I only started doing this on occasion over the last month. However, I since have noticed my front tooth has chipped. Could this be caused by bulimia, especially if I only did this a few times ever over the last month?

– Shannon in Missouri


The short answer to your question is yes, bulimia and teeth are correlated and can cause your teeth to chip even in the short amount of time of purging. The effects, and how quickly they will occur will vary from person to person, but you can expect it to cause significant damage to your teeth. With self-induced purging, the repeated stomach acid exposure from vomiting strips away tooth enamel, meant to protect teeth from decay. Without this protective layer, teeth are laid bare to erosion. After just a short time of continuous binging, your teeth can become worn, rugged, thin and translucent. This breakdown of your teeth causes them to chip or crack quite easily. Most often, the damage starts on the back side of the teeth, so you may not even see it right away when you look in the mirror. In addition, bulimia deteriorates teeth, causing tooth sensitivity to hot or cold because tooth nerve is exposed, and increases your risk of periodontal disease. Click here to see a bulimia story that demonstrates what this looks like.

If you are an active bulimic there are things you can do to minimize the risk of stomach acid eroding your teeth. Rinse your mouth out with water as soon as possible. This can help neutralize stomach acid in your mouth. Use fluoride at home to decrease sensitivity, and reduce further tooth decay. Wait to brush because brushing right after vomiting causes further abrasion to your teeth. Stopping the cycle and moving towards recovery is the most effective way to preserve your teeth and minimize the damaging effects.

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

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